Dear Athletic Support: It seems like every time I turn on the television or check my Facebook page, there’s another sporting event canceled due to the Coronavirus. Both of my kids are athletes, and we have multiple tournaments scheduled for the spring. So far, I’ve only heard rumors of their tournaments being canceled, but I must say I am a little hesitant to pack my family into a gym or sit too close to the other parents in the stands. Am I overreacting at this point? Or not reacting enough? — Corna-fied Mother
Dear Corna-fied: With basically all major sporting events canceled for the foreseeable future, your question couldn’t have come at a better time. Before I go any further, let me make one point clear: I’m not a doctor. I’m a former football player and coach. My family is, however, taking certain steps to remain safe. Here’s a look at our daily life:
Ours is a world of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes. A fog hangs thick over our living room from an endless stream of Lysol spray. My 3-year-old daughter strips out of her clothes when she comes home from preschool, and anyone who wishes to hold our infant son must wash his hands (actually, scratch that; nobody’s holding little for the next couple weeks). We don’t go over to friends’ houses anymore, and our kids definitely aren’t going to be playing in the Chic-fil-A play place anytime soon.
At this point, we’re wary, to say the least, but we’re not holed up in a bunker surrounded by cans of green beans. My biggest worry is the panic that comes as a result of COVID-19 will do far more damage than the disease itself.
There are already reports of people around the country hoarding vast quantities of hand sanitizer, bottled water, and toilet paper. Some have even gone so far as to steal medical facemasks and other equipment from places that really need it, like hospitals.
This sort of behavior makes me worry far more than the actual virus. Even if this pandemic dies out sooner than expected, people’s reaction to it could cause far more damage than COVID-19. No matter what, remember we’re all on the same team.
Looking ahead, I’d be willing to bet your kids’ upcoming tournaments will get canceled. Many schools across my home state of Arkansas have already begun to shutter their doors. If your forthcoming athletic events don’t get canceled, remember you still have a choice. Sports are important, sure, but as we’ve seen from the decision-makers at both the collegiate and professional levels, nothing is more important than player safety.
And, please, don’t feel like your son or daughter’s athletic careers will be in jeopardy if they don’t play ball for the next couple weeks, or months (hopefully this all blows over by then). In the meantime, wash your hands and carry a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer, if you can still find any.