In a world of social distancing and self-isolation, it’s easy to miss the myriad of things that previously brought people together. Just about no one is happy with the current state of the world, mostly because many of our favorite activities have been either postponed or cancelled altogether. The effects of COVID-19 have also taken a massive toll on the sports world.
For avid sports fans, tuning into the NBA Playoffs and March Madness is not just a means of entertainment, it’s a tradition. Years of upsets, nail-biters, and champions crowned have made us look forward to hoops in the Spring just as much as we do the warm weather. There are many things that come and go in life, but until now, sports were an unquestioned constant.
The jarring reality of basketball’s current situation is upsetting to many, and for good reason. Years down the line when we look back on great NCAA champions, the slot for 2020 will be blank. The NBA is in danger of the same fate. Uncertainty and disappointment seem to permeate everywhere we look, and without sports as an escape, it’s easy to let oneself slip into a state of constant worry.
But just as our favorite athletes have shown us year in and year out, turbulent times are no place for concession. When the UMBC Retrievers were matched up with the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, they refused to quit. A year later, when that same Virginia team required two Overtime victories and perfect free throw shooting with less than a second to play against Auburn to secure the first championship in program history, they refused to back down. When LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell behind 3-1 in the 2016 NBA Finals against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, the last idea on their minds was to accept defeat.
UMBC walloped Virginia by 20 points, becoming the first #16 seed to ever defeat a #1 seed in the tournament. Virginia hit last-second shots against Purdue and Auburn to advance to the championship, where they defeated Texas Tech in a grueling battle for the title. The Cavaliers rallied back, stunning the Warriors in a historic Game 7 to become the first team in NBA Finals history to recover from a 3-1 deficit.
Unlike those inspiring athletes, we cannot dispel our sadness by defeating it on the basketball court. However, one of the elements we all love about sports is their ability to teach us lessons we can apply to our own lives. We must do everything in our own power to help defeat the virus, and look toward the future with optimism and excitement. The abandonment of hope is a fate comparable to the virus itself.
No matter how long it takes for our favorite sports and the world to return to normal, we must remain cognizant of the fact that they are not gone for good. Eventually, we will experience more unforgettable basketball moments, and the day where our beloved sport was absent will be an afterthought.
Until then, though, we must remain strong, and comfort one another during this difficult time. Even without the presence of basketball, the basketball community is unbreakable.
In the words of Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis, “A good team needs to play together.” Without one another, we may fail in our efforts to get through this time of crisis. However, together, we can rally back from even the largest of deficits. No matter the circumstances, one sentiment remains:
Basketball Is Forever.