March 2020 will be forever be remembered as the time when the sports world stood still.
First came the NBA suspending its season due to the coronavirus. Then NCAA basketball, the NHL, the MLB and the Masters Golf all followed. Monday brought the postponement of the Kentucky Derby until no sooner than September.
No March Madness? It’s pure March Sadness.
We have never seen anything like this in our lifetime. Nor do we ever wish to again.
I’ve experienced some interesting and taxing times during more than 3 1/2 decades in journalism.
I remember my early days here at the BCR when I drove to work early one morning only to find firetrucks parked outside our old office at 316 S. Main (now Festival 56) showering our rooftop with water. The building next to ours was lost, but thanks to the fire department, ours was saved.
In the same era, I once walked to work in the midst of a blizzard, trying to navigate my way down the streets. We had a skeleton crew that was able to get to work doing an array of jobs to put the paper out that day.
I will never forget putting a paper out on 9/11 and the day of the famous white Bronco pursuit on the highways of L.A. during the O.J. Simpson saga.
Most recently, I drove through tornadic activity coming back from a sectional basketball game in March and ran just as fast my old legs would carry me out of what appeared to be the press box at Hall High School catching fire during a football game.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to what we’ve all experienced the past week. Forget about sports, forget about newspapers. I’m just talking life.
Who would ever thought the most valuable piece of property would be toilet paper? I’ve seen my share of “T-Peed” houses and trees. That’d be like throwing gold away now.
It was a certainly a fluid week for sports writing.
First I wrote that the IHSA was going to proceed with the state basketball tournament in Peoria last week, but limiting it to 60 spectators per team. By the end of the day, the IHSA called off the games altogether and all of its remaining winter sports activities.
I had spoken to and written a story about Wyanet official Dave Shepard earning his very first state tournament assignment. The story never made it to print or online, revised as part of the IHSA’s cancellation story.
I also had to do quick rewrites about our local athletes going to state events such as the IKWF, IOWCA and IESA state wrestling tournament to all of them being canceled.
Life without sports is definitely different. It’s been my life, from playing, to coaching, to writing about them for a living. And now you go home and there’s no live sports events to watch. I do appreciate ESPN’s giving us some classic throwback games. I even tapped into the free streaming of Ken Burns’ “Baseball” on PBS Sunday night. (I liked it, but my girls at home thought it was kind of boring.)
Now’s a good time to read a good book. Play games with the kids. Watch a movie.
Most importantly, be sure to listen to what our authorities are telling us about social distancing. It’s going to save lives and prevent our health services from crippling.
• History lesson: I came across an entry from the 1919 yearbook of my hometown Atlanta, IL High School over the weekend and found an interesting note about the basketball team. The Redwings’ had a five-week hiatus due to a quarantine during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic. The school had reopened, only to be shut down again after several staff members became ill.
It’s a good history lesson for us now to learn from their actions that saved our forefathers in their time of strife.
• In closing, I would offer this old hymn during this time of strife to offer some peace: I may not know about tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.