This past year certainly has been one for our lifetimes. We saw the emergence of a global pandemic that took our world by storm, choking our supplies and catching many countries around the world off-guard when we should have been ready for it. However, though being ready for it may not be synonymous for some countries around the world, in the end, one thing became clear: it was something we had to deal with. Even now it still is something we have to deal with, as we come up on the one-year anniversary of the original shutdowns last March.
Sports, both locally here in West Chester as well as professionally across the country, shut down with the rest as the world stood still. The pandemic continued to rage on as the NBA was the true turning point for the United States to take COVID-19 seriously as Rudy Gobert’s case was the first in league history and caused the league to shut down that night, just mere hours after his diagnosis and game cancellation between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. This shocked the sporting world, as that night was the last night we saw of a sports world we all loved our entire lives.
Sports like the MLB, NHL and NBA all were in playing season during the original lockdowns and did not return again that March. Instead, fans across the world saw the return of sports in the late summer months, with the MLB having its Opening Day on July 23 and 24, the NHL holding its bubble in Canada on Aug. 1, and the NBA returning in their Disney World bubble on July 30. The world that sports returned to changed drastically. Teams could not celebrate as they once did in what I call the ‘before COVID’ times, nor could teams really interact with one another due to the fear of rapid spread infection.
As the professional leagues pushed through their playoffs and reached their championships, the bubbles of the NBA and NHL were proven successes, however costly they may have been. The MLB had certainly some questionable moments, with positive tests coming up and players being taken out mid game at some moments. However, sports continued forward nonetheless, and the fans got to see the finish to one wild season.
As the fall came around, our Golden Rams Athletic Teams were not allowed to play due to regulations in the state of Pennsylvania. The students who loved to go to Farrell Stadium to watch our Golden Rams play couldn’t do that as we all turned to online learning and quarantining in our bedrooms and houses as students. As the fall turned to winter, the NFL played on their season in the pros as students in many universities as well as West Chester could not see their seasons come to a close as normal.
Now, as the spring approaches and vaccines are upon us, there seems to be a new beginning in what sports has become throughout this pandemic. Whether it’d be an escape or just something you enjoy, for all of us, this past year has shown us that sports mean more than just the play. It’s the comradery, the athletics and, most importantly, the fun of the game.
Jeffrey Babcock is a fourth-year student majoring in communications and minoring in journalism. Jb884128@wcupa.edu