This is a prayer as much as a column. And if you don’t roll that way, it is meditation and consideration, it is an exercise in thought straight through the prism of sports and beyond. Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, keep your distance and read along.
Never before has the word “indefinite” ruled sports in Utah and the entire sports world the way it is ruling them now. Even during World War II, sports here and around the United States didn’t hit the brakes the way they have over the past 72 hours.
It is unprecedented, another word owning the day.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Major League Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis asked President Franklin Roosevelt if baseball should be played during the war. FDR famously told the commish to play on, despite the fact that many athletes interrupted their careers to join the war effort.
Coronavirus has done what the evils of that time did not, at least not as comprehensively.
It has halted everything sports — indefinitely — on account of one significant line of thought: Some things are more important than others.
Things such as keeping a nation healthy, keeping as many people as possible alive.
The Jazz will not play again for at least a month, neither will any teams in the NBA, according to commissioner Adam Silver, and it could be longer. The season could be done. Nobody knows at this point.
The fact that Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were at the center of that postponement made the story that much more poignant.
BYU and Utah State will not play in the NCAA Tournament, an event for which they qualified through memorable seasons, because nobody will play in the tournament. It’s canceled.
The Cougars featured seven seniors, and despite their loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC tournament, they might have actually won a game or two in March Madness, considering their inside-out abilities and their win against Gonzaga, proving they could play at a high level.
The Aggies had something special going, led by Sam Merrill, maybe the greatest USU player of all time, also proving that they could play top-drawer basketball, having beaten No. 5 San Diego State to win the Mountain West tournament. Could the Ags also have won a game or two in the dance? Let’s put it this way: If you were a coach of an opposing team, based on recent results, would have wanted to face that team at this time?
Based on that reasoning, or at least guessing, two teams from the state of Utah could have made the Sweet 16, two teams were led by tough-minded seniors who were on the verge of their career apexes, potentially putting their teams in a bright spotlight their schools are not used to being under.
Oh, what might have been.
Further, BYU, Utah,Utah State, among other schools and other conferences, cancel all sports.
The NHL suspends its season.
Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer put their seasons on hold. World Cup qualifiers elsewhere are postponed. European soccer is suspended.
The Masters is postponed. The PGA Tour cancels the Players Championship, as well as the next three events.
Major League Baseball halts spring training and delays opening day.
The Boston Marathon is postponed.
It goes on and on.
Cancellations, postponements, conjecture about what sports, what events will be affected in the months ahead — such as the Olympics — circulate now, mixed in with the concern and caution surrounding a virus with too many unknowns.
So many people are trapped in all of this, beyond those who suffer ill health. And while the wellbeing of everyone should be the absolute top priority, with no room for doubt or discussion on that, those who are losing employment, losing wages used to support themselves and their families need concern and help, too.
All of that transcends sports, eclipses them, the entire country hunkered down, indefinitely making its way through unprecedented circumstances, enduring physical, mental, spiritual, financial hardship.
We’ll all miss the sports. We’ll miss all the things that pulled us into sports — the competition, the entertainment, the performances, the feats of remarkable physicality, the drama, the uncertain endings, the sense of community.
But hopefully, we’ll also help do away with a virus that has caused so much heartache and heartbreak. Hopefully, extraordinarily smart people who accomplish such things can figure COVID-19 out, and then snuff it out. Let’s turn our rooting interests to those men and women in lab coats with letters after their names, people who were actually studying at universities while we all were filling stadiums, cheering for those schools’ football and basketball teams, folks who are doing what they can to slay this monster.
It’s hurt enough people, it’s interrupted enough lives and ended too many lives. It’s cost far too much.
Say a prayer, then, if that’s how you roll, or think positive thoughts, whatever — along with washing your hands and taking other precautions — that this thing can and will be beat.
So that our games, and our lives, can go on, caring for and mourning those who have been less fortunate.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.