In this job, you can do a lot of cool and interesting things in sports. But perhaps, the one thing I look forward to most every year when it comes to the games we play is coaching my son’s youth baseball team.
I love trying to teach the basics of the game, and learning new ways to do it. I enjoy being around some of the kids who have been on the team since they were on T-ball. I really appreciate meeting new kids and trying to cultivate a love for baseball for them. However, for the most part, I would like to give my 8 year old experience of playing baseball like I had at that age, experiences that taught me about teamwork, about how to win and how to lose, lessons on how to work to get better at something You did. really enjoy. It’s a lesson, I think, that has been valuable to me throughout my life. I would never have pursued this career without them.
After all, we have to do all of that by 2020. We play more than a dozen games. We practice a lot. My wife makes buckets where each child can store their equipment, and we place them six feet away before each exercise and game so the kids can keep their distance, play, learn to have fun, and most importantly, stay safe.
Not every little kid can do all of that, we know.
And while they are playing and getting better and having the opportunity to compete, it’s still not the same.
They miss high-fives when someone gets a big hit, a hug when we win and, for the most part, when we lose. They are in the same field, of course. But for the most part, they weren’t together.
We have a game. But we still miss what the game really brings us.
What is missing
Of course, some of us couldn’t play this year. High school season is canceled here. Some high schools are not exercising this fall, worried about the spread of the heinous coronavirus that dominates nearly every headline in 2020. College athletes miss spring and fall, meaning for most seniors, athletic careers end without warning. I interviewed too many kids this year who took a swing, or jumped, and then the next day, knowing it was all over.
Penguins can’t finish their 2019-20 AHL season. The RailRiders, sadly, never started their game – or held their Triple-A All-Star Game – and PNC Field sits empty on the most majestic summer evenings. We lost at Wimbledon and the Summer Olympics.
That’s not wrong, considering the situation. But that’s not fair. That’s what happened during a global pandemic.
Nonetheless, we also have our sports section. The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Dodgers wins the World Series. The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship, and Tampa Bay Lighting launched the Stanley Cup.
It looked sketchy for a few weeks, but Penn State was playing football. Notre Dame played, and still is. So did Pitt. So did Temple and Syracuse.
We have high school football season. We’re having a fall sports season.
All that is likely to happen, will be a topic of discussion when we look back at 2020, pandemic or no pandemic.
What I’m going to take the most from 2020, to be honest, is that we actually have the game, and we also have a little bit of the fact that sport is more than just stats and results and athletic displays.
What do we need again
In other words, I have to train my men’s team. But I missed the post-match details after the farm league baseball game, gathered in a circle, stuck my hand in, and shouted “Team!” on three.
I got to watch the Yankees play baseball, but I missed going to Yankee Stadium and a beer spilled on me after Aaron Judge knocked one on the stands.
I got to see PNC Field, but I haven’t had time to shake hands with people in the press box, or watch batting practice, or interview players here in rehab, or write a column about the changes minor league baseball has experienced despite the pandemic.
I went to Beaver Stadium as many times as I wanted this year to cover games. But I miss the rumble of White Out. I missed James Franklin’s annual half-time jeer because the Nittany Lions don’t look like they’re going to beat a spread against MAC opponents. I miss the smell of burgers coming from the tailgate grill. I miss chatting with fans I know well in the parking lot.
I miss the atmosphere.
I don’t miss big games like I miss the taste.
Really, I miss all of you.
Maybe in 2021, we will be together again. I’m sure we’ll have more games. I’m sure we’re going to see some athletes make amazing games we never thought possible. No doubt there will be lasting disappointment in the coming year, that records will be broken and championships won. Because at some point and at some level, we will make sacrifices to play the game.
But are we going to make sacrifices to get the real prizes sport gives us? A chance to be together? Celebrate? To work together to support one goal? To understand that what we really love to do is get together?
It is a little cloudier as we enter into a more hopeful and somewhat more uncertain future.
We hope for better, and even better, the appreciation of all the games we play that scores outside the box.
This is the hope for a new season of togetherness.
Here hoping for the new year is much better than the old, so we can high five again before it ends.