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Basketball, Madness, and the Sickness

One guy’s thoughts on the coronavirus and the sports world.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Nebraska vs Indiana Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Allow me to ramble for a bit.

Not that I do that very often these days (the lack of Shootyhoops Stock Reports is hopefully a little bit noticeable). These past few months have been quite a challenge for me. Personally, and professionally. I’m a project engineer by trade. My life consists of a never-ending roller coaster of specifications, quotations, implications, implementations, and enough “-tions” to make most people hurl. Such is life in manufacturing.

Sports are my outlet. Between the Cubs, Bears, Boilers, and Blackhawks, I’ve got most of the year covered by at least one team. Sprinkle in some sports wagering here and there (bet the under in conference tournament play) and it’s a great getaway to let off some steam or at least some background noise while trying to get my 2-year old down for her nap.

Enter the Coronavirus.

A significant part of my work life is spent on the road. When something like COVID-19 starts spreading, I take notice. When Swine-flu and Avian-flu and other diseases cause major disruptions to life and travel plans, it adds a level of stress to an already stressful profession. Deny the severity at your own risk, as for me and my family, we’re listening to the doctors and scientists and taking the needed precautions.

March is a special time of year for me. Last year, I was able to meet friends and go to the Purdue-Tennessee Sweet Sixteen game in Louisville. We drank pregame, screamed during the game, and basked in the victory postgame (including yours truly belting out “Paint It Black” at a karaoke bar somewhere I don’t fully remember).

Growing up in Indiana, basketball is a significant event. You’re told to pick a side between Purdue and Indiana at an early age. High school games are a community event. The first weekend of the tournament is damn near an annual holiday for me. The Madness isn’t just something on TV, it’s a part of my being.

But that’s changed.

With COVID-19 invading our daily lives, sports are taking a backseat. It needs to. The NBA has started to figure it out. It sounds like the NHL is starting to as well. The NCAA tournament might still happen, but in empty arenas with very restricted access.

All to slow the spread.

And that’s what’s really important. Sports are a major part of who we are. However, at the end of the day, it’s a small sacrifice if it put the brakes on this thing.

Mother Nature always wins. Humans might be able to adapt and treat the disease and move on, but Mother Nature will always have the upper hand.

I hope the Madness and basketball and sports is able to continue, even if it’s just for love of the game, as Bill Self said last night:

”It’s sad. Sad for players,” Kansas Coach Bill Self said from the Big 12 Tournament. “You dream of playing for the highest stakes on the brightest stage.

”Certainly it’s hard to imagine that if nobody is there in person to see it but I told our guys, ‘Why did we all start loving this game? Why did we all start playing it? Did we do it because we wanted other people to watch us or did we do it because we actually loved it?’ “

I hope nothing but the best for all of you. Take care of yourselves. Take care of one another.

Hopefully the Madness doesn’t stop but this sickness does.