SALT LAKE CIITY — Sports matter in our country, simple as that.
For sure, athletic competition is not more important than the health and safety of our citizens. And given the current situation throughout the country, professional and college sports are correct in shutting down to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
But don’t discount that America needs sports. Anything to the contrary is wrong.
“For a large segment of our country, we live and die on sports,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during an interview this week with Ernie Johnson of TNT. “We consume an enormous amount of it.”
Yes, we do.
Leading the way after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus before the Utah Jazz were set to play at Oklahoma City, the NBA immediately halted all games on March 11. Within days, all professional and college sports followed suit.
Since then, the country has been locked down on quarantine, frozen in time, forced to wait out a situation that has no definite end. Most all simple pleasures outside the home are on hold.
Admit it, the absence of sports for nearly one month has created a huge void. Rotating movies and television shows or playing board games are not adequate replacements every night.
“We all miss it,” Silver said. “It’s an important form of entertainment in this country.”
Unfortunately, no end is in sight. The best we have is to relive memories of games played in years gone by.
Silver, who said he is hopeful “that the sports industry can contribute in a huge way to restarting of this country,” acknowledged the NBA cannot make any decisions on this season at least through the end of this month. Even then, nothing is assured during May.
At this point, anything and everything is open for discussion. Options for the NBA include playing some portion of the regular season or going straight to the playoffs and changing the current term of postponement — as disappointing as it would be — to cancellation.
“We miss it badly,” Silver said. “While we’re putting the health and safety of everyone first, we’re looking at every possibility to get our players back on the floor and to play NBA basketball again.”
Still months away from starting their respective training camps, the NFL and college football seasons also are in doubt. The more quarantines continue, the less likely those seasons will avoid some type of negative impact.
With regard to live sports, all we have is the PGA Tour announcing plans to resume golf tournaments in middle of June, with dates set for the three majors played in the United States scheduled later in the summer and fall. But nothing is guaranteed.
The role of sports, please understand, doesn’t offset the real-life problems the coronavirus is causing. The loss of life and the staggering effects on the economy have a level of importance that far supersede any game.
Millions of people are suffering in one form or another. Resuming athletic competition can’t replace life, but as Silver said, it can help jumpstart the economy and provide an entertainment outlet.
When sports are up and running, it will coincide with the return of normal life. At that point, we will rejoice.
Through all of these trails, hopefully something can come of them. While sports do matter as a form of entertainment, maybe the diehards and fanatics can find perspective.
The games, as fun as they may be, should be nothing more than just that — fun and games to the spectators. The outcomes, beyond the immediate sense of joy to the victors, don’t mean much over the long term.
Hurling insults at athletes or scuffling in the stands are beyond comprehension and serve no purpose. Keep it in mind at the next game, whenever that may come.