Sports Events and a Pandemic…Stay Calm

By Sherri Middleton, Executive Editor

There are only a few things that can dampen the spirit of sports events planners and the people who take their kids to events across the U.S. each year. I would say a lack of funds to travel or participate. No events worth attending. Or family illness or death might be among the major reasons that we stay home when our young people want to compete.

    On the event planning side, it has to be something major. No hotels at affordable prices in the area. No airlines with available flights in our price range. Gas prices are too high. Our dream destination doesn’t want to host the event. Now that’s big and negative. And now we have a virus that is scaring people away from what we do in sports, events, travel, tourism, and life.

I got a flu shot early last December and two or three weeks later had the flu. My symptoms were terrible for three or four days and then I forced myself back to meet obligations of work, family, and life. That’s what we do as people. I limited my exposure. I took days off from work at the office and suffered miserably in my bed with high fever, chest congestion, and body aches.

I’ve been watching the Coronavirus scare for months and wondering what impact it would have on the U.S. and sports events. In January and February, I spoke with top-level officials in our world of sports events and they were concerned about the impact this virus would have on events in amateur and youth sports, but their worry was tempered with optimism.

As I monitored the spread of this virus from China with friends around the world my thoughts were on the Olympic athletes and some major sporting events on the horizon.

With a calm head, I started working on this blog entry days ago. I could have already posted negative news. I could have sent out the cursory “wash your hands” language we keep hearing, but I wanted to gather news. I heard about Indian Wells canceling the tennis match, and then I read that the NCAA was considering a fan-less March Madness and my head almost exploded. I understand the concern. I understand the worry.

We are now in the midst of an unprecedented viral attack on our lives, so out of an abundance of precaution, we will shut down our lives and…

And then what?

I don’t know. But I will tell you that while we scare ourselves to death with worry, sports events are still happening across the country and even the world.

My email inbox is full of upcoming events with children, families, and fans still planning to attend. They are still traveling to destinations. They are still spending money and they still want to live their lives – albeit with a little more hand sanitizer and elbow bumps.

Am I naïve? Maybe.

I have adult-onset asthma, COPD and a long history of pneumonia that could always take me down in a heartbeat. I’m always worried about the next virus attacking me. My kids want me to quit working. My ex is even worried about me.

I worked with kids and teens for almost four years with a city government and also worked daily with seniors and the general public.

I spent time wiping snotty noses, being coughed on in the face, cleaning bowel accidents and trying to keep grimy hands off my lunch.

Why? Because this is life. Life is rich with people and social interaction and sports.

At the end of the day when the kids in my group just wanted to be hugged and held and I held them and loved them, they knew soccer practice or swimming at the end of the day would make them feel better.

Don’t give up. We make a difference every day.

Use common sense. If someone is sick, evaluate and send them home if you must.

Require sanitary habits. Wash your hands. Blow your nose and toss away the tissue. Fist bump.

We don’t have to stop playing, we just have to use our common sense about self-protection. Head lice, runny noses, hacking coughs are part of our world in youth and amateur sports and recreation. When we shut it all down finally and stop playing on the grassy fields and sweaty gyms, we will be back. Don’t lose sight of the people who need you.

My email reminds me each day that people are playing sports despite this virus. Use common sense. We will survive this.

Editor’s Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and are not influenced by others.