Have you ever been a part of an ice breaker activity, where you sit in a circle with a bunch of fresh faces and go around giving answers to random questions? They’ll ask, “What is your biggest fear?” Someone will say, “Spiders!” and curl up at the thought of them. Another person will say, “Heights” – a nice, safe answer. Then someone will say, “Being buried alive” and you’ll know they were traumatized from watching too much professional wrestling as a kid.
But, sometimes, our biggest fear is the one we do not even know we have. Not to be dramatic, but six days ago, I met my biggest fear.
A world without sports.
Every sports league has shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As they should. I fully support this decision.
However, if I can be selfish for a second, this is going to be extremely difficult for me. It already is and we are only six days into this new reality. SIX DAYS.
And I know what you might be thinking:
“Who cares if you miss a few silly games, there is a pandemic on our doorstep. Get your priorities in order!”
I am not here to be insensitive, or disrespectful. I completely understand where sports fall on the totem pole of importance. I am only here to talk about what sports mean to me, and how I feel completely lost with them. Maybe you can relate.
When someone asks me what my favourite sport is, I never have a solid answer. My go-to response is, “It depends on the time of year.” Whichever sports are currently in-season, those are my favourite sports.
I struggle to think of a time in my life when I did not like sports.
Sports are my obsession. They give me joy; they give me purpose. If you take sports out of my life, I have no clue who I am.
I have felt like a ghost for the last six days. It is as if my soul is in a jail cell and my outer shell is standing on the other side of the bars wondering which part of me is actually the one stuck in jail.
There are no games to look forward to. No highlights to catch up on. No stats to analyze. No standings to ponder.
Time has slowed down to a crawl. This past weekend felt like three weeks. On Saturday, I forgot what day it was. I am so accustomed to using the duration of games as a tool to tell time, that just looking at a regular clock was throwing me off. Seriously.
If there is a Spring Training game on at 1PM, it’ll be done around 4PM, which gives me an hour or two before dinner, which then leaves an hour or two before the hockey game starts at 7PM. That is how I tell time on the weekend, specifically Saturdays.
Without sports, 5:13PM just becomes three numbers on the clock. There is nothing waiting for me at 7PM.
That may sound crazy to you, but it is second-nature to me. My body clock in synced to the schedules of my favourite teams.
But we currently find ourselves in a time where the sports have no games. You knew I had to get that line in here somewhere.
Sure, I can watch TV shows to pass the time. I can read. I can write. I can cook. But all of those things are my secondary hobbies. They are the side salad to my main course.
At the earliest, sports leagues could be back up and running by mid-May. That is if everything goes right. That is if everyone helps to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus. But you already know people are not doing that.
So, we are probably looking at June, if not July. That is about three months without sports. Now I am getting mad.
Whenever I find myself thinking about how many weeks have to go by before sports *may* return, I feel the panic setting in, before telling myself to think about something else.
This is still only the beginning.
I have always wondered what people, who don’t like sports, do in their spare time. How does the other half live? If they aren’t watching this game, what are they doing? And how could they possibly find enjoyment in it?
I never prepared for this. Sports have always been there. When one ends, the next one begins. There is no off-season as a fan.
Everything in my life has been built around sports, even when it came to picking a major in university. Oh, there’s a program with the word “Sport” in the title? I’m in. Forget everything else. Forget the other programs. Read this course description, mom. It’s me. “Paul, that’s you!”. I know.
All throughout school, I’d hijack my assignments and twist them so I could add a sports component. Whether it was doing a presentation about baseball in Math class, using sports quotes as captions to photos in Media Studies, or drawing a curling rink in Art class because we could only use circles and squares to draw a picture, I knew what I was doing.
At times in my life, I have felt a bit uncomfortable being seen as just “the sports guy” because I know how smart and knowledgeable I am about other things, and I want the credit for it.
Truthfully, I think my entire blog is me, subconsciously, pushing back against the notion that sports fans should just stick to sports.
But, it’s fine. I can’t stop being this way. This is who I am. This is who I will always be. Sports are always on my mind. Heck, I fall asleep while listening to sports talk radio. That is basically osmosis and hypnosis at the same.
Sports are everything to me. For the next little while, though, I am going to have to figure out who I am without them.
And that terrifies me.