Al Willman

The sports world slammed on its brakes this week, shutting down organized athletics from gym class to the pros.

And, it’s frustrating. Maybe infuriating. Definitely disappointing.

Student-athletes were told they might not ever play in their last – and for some – first, or only, state basketball tournament at Rupp Arena.

I was in Lexington when this was breaking. I was ready to write about Marshall County’s girls and McCracken County’s boys, and the games that haven’t been.

Kids were told they couldn’t play, either, in the altogether-cancelled state archery tournament, which would’ve been going on as I type this column.

March Madness? Nope. The Masters? Nuh-uh. NASCAR? Gridlock.

But, it’s not just about sports.

COVID-19 isn’t sticking to it, so neither am I.

There’s much about this disease that we’re still learning about. There are medical professionals that are still discovering what causes what the World Health Organization has classified a “global pandemic.”

So, out of an abundance of caution – which is an important term, especially now – people are being told to stay home.

Students will be learning digitally. It’s as much an adjustment for many of them as it will be for the teachers who are used to teaching in a traditional classroom environment.

Working adults who are able – like me, writing this in my living room – to will be doing their jobs remotely.

It’s important to, if it’s at all possible, stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks, so that those of us most susceptible to its danger – and yes, it is dangerous – don’t succumb to it.

Many of you believe it’s no big deal, that it’s overblown by whomever or whatever to suit some known or unknown agenda.

And, maybe it will be later determined to have been just that.

But, is it worth taking even the smallest chance?

I don’t think so.

My son is sitting with me as I write this. I’m limiting where I go and what I do for his safety and the safety of those whose children I encounter on an almost daily basis.

My wife is at work, right now, in the retail sector. She doesn’t have the luxury of working from home that many of us enjoy. She encounters the general public, as well as postal delivery professionals, who we all see when we go out.

Not all of them, and certainly none of the postal folks, are able to do what they do in the comfort of their homes.

These precautions are for them, too.

So, yes, you might think it’s a major inconvenience, or annoyance, or, for many, just plain stupid.

The thing is, it’s not.

We don’t know, right now, how many people will be sickened by it, or even worse, will die from it.

But what we do know is that limiting the ways in which people can come in contact with COVID-19 will make things better, in the long run, for as many of us as possible.

That’s what this is about.

It’s about protecting as many people as can be protected.

So, yes, your favorite team isn’t playing. Your child’s team isn’t playing. Your team isn’t playing.

You’re not alone.

Nobody’s is.

But, eventually, they will again, and we’ll be there when they do.

In the meantime, we’re calling an audible with our coverage. You’ll see more feature stories on the games that were, with an emphasis on those that were a long time ago – longer than five years, at least.

Got some ideas about those you’d like to see? Reach out. We’re listening. Our livelihood depends just as much on what we’re able to do in the coming days, weeks and – hopefully not this long – months, as yours does. We’re in this together.

We’ll still be in the present, too, talking with folks who would’ve been playing had things continued as normal, in eager anticipation of their return to it, or as normal as they will be moving forward.

It’s my sincerest hope that, after a fashion, we’ll be able to laugh about the Spring of 2020; about what might’ve been, while all the while thankful that it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.

If you’re self-quarantining, take some time. Learn a new hobby. Spend time with your family. If you’re on your own, recharge the batteries.

If you’re not self-quarantining, or if you can’t, be careful.

Everybody: Wash your hands. Wash your hands. I’ll say it again. Wash. Your. Hands. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Be a critical thinker.

The sports will be back.

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