It Doesn’t Help

Workers begin the teardown process after the cancellation of the Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship
Workers begin the teardown process after the cancellation of the Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship

It Doesn’t Help

In an attempt to fill the void left by the cancellation of sports, many outlets, from broadcast media to on-line sites, have been either re-running classic games or putting up speculative content about the way in which the NCAA 2020 tournaments would have played out.

The barely-begun 2020 Big 12 men’s basketball championship bracket

Want to watch the six-overtime classic from the Big East tournament between Syracuse and UConn? It was on. Feel the need to check out the results of 1,000 simulated runs of the putative 2020 NCAA basketball bracket, or alternatively, look at a one shot in time bracket that includes upsets? They’re out there too, in dozens of different forms.

Heck, one of them had the WVU men reaching the national championship game.

For some, these alternatives provide a welcome relief, if not a full substitution for the excitement of spring championship season. Those people can get lost in reminiscing about some of those great moments. Mountaineer fans — or those of any team — can also repair to online video outlets for highlights and full games of years past.

Trouble is, I’m not one of them.

It’s not that I don’t respect history, or study it. That’s one of the things I enjoy about this job. Comparisons to years past, likening one player to another, looking at how stats line up and diverge, all of that comes into this job. There’s also the personalities and people involved, reconnecting from one year to the next at postseason events. All of that plays into my enjoyment of what I do here. But now and at least for the next two or three months, the current games are gone, and with it, again for me, that connection to the past.

When sports are in full swing, there’s often not time for us to pause, or produce all the coverage we want. March might be the busiest month for us, what with basketball, baseball, spring football all converging and demanding attention. (November, with basketball starting while football hits the end of season drive, probably second.) We all look forward to a little bit of a break in June and July, when the pace slows a bit, but this year it’s going to seem like a desert, unless there is a more rapid clearing and recovery from COVID-19 seems likely at the moment. And that, in turn, affects my reactions now.

The plug was pulled with all the abruptness of an executioner throwing the switch on the electric chair. Instead of an anticipated break of two or three weeks, we’re now looking at two or three months — and maybe more.

I don’t want to watch games from a couple of years ago, because that just reminds me first and foremost of what we’re missing now — and more importantly, what all the student-athletes missed out on. I do feel badly for them, and then that sets off more ruminations, most of the negative type. Those who are ill, those who are seeing their livelihoods affected. They all have a place in that thought pattern. And those are thoughts I don’t want to have.

To defend my point, I have seen some recommended watch lists recently for home bingeing, and they include the films “Outbreak” and “Contagion.” Seriously? You aren’t getting enough of that on the news?

You can accuse me of ostrich-like sticking my head in the sand, and I wouldn’t be able to argue. (I prefer the pulling the covers over my head metaphor, but whatever.) I’m not ignoring what’s going on. I’m paying attention and following all the health recommendations and social distancing guidelines. I just don’t need these reminders, and every one of those old games or highlights is just that. Watch them, and  they gnaw at me.

I don’t begrudge those who can find some escape in watching those archived games and highlights, or enjoy engaging in the “what-if” scenarios. If those sorts of things help fill the gap, or provide enjoyment, then’s that’s great. I’m envious in that regard. But I just don’t want to be reminded of what we’re missing right now.