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Sports and the end of society

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Bob comes back to reflect on our new reality.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Hi everybody.

I’m not going to lie, I missed you all. While my passion for sports had dropped off due to burnout, it rekindled the last few weeks.

I missed you, B5Q readership. Even though I know we have a rather unique relationship, I love how you both enjoyed and critiqued my work before I took a break.

I wish these were not the circumstances I dusted off the old laptop.

I remember going to Badger football games with my dad, particularly when I was in the eighth or ninth grade. I remember the road from Milwaukee to Madison and feeling the excitement of kickoff. The excitement for the band. The excitement for the Fifth Quarter.

The excitement for John Stocco. Yeah, I was weird. (Still am).

I remember thinking that football has not been around for ever, wondering what people did with their dads on a fall Saturday morning before college football.

But I remember a grim thought too. If football can start, it can end.

I imagined the world that will come without football, without sports. I imagined an America ravaged by war, economic collapse, or famine. I imagined Camp Randall in disrepair. I saw a stadium not filled with energy, but rather a set piece from a post-apocalyptic movie.

I am not panicking about novel coronavirus, COVID-19. I also think it is a serious virus that needs to be respected. That’s not what this article is about, though. I know you all have different perspectives on how dangerous this is, but it has impacted how our society functions.

Throughout the last month or so, I have felt rather detached from COVID-19. I knew that our lives would all be impacted by it, but it never truly hit home.

Well, it hit me hard Wednesday night when the NBA announced it suspended the season indefinitely, and I haven’t watched an NBA game from start to finish in maybe four months.

The news brought forward old memories, thoughts, and fears regarding how my family would exist after society crumbles. I became suddenly acutely aware of all of the privileges and luxuries I have, and I saw how the people I love would be impacted by the destruction of our collective social contract.

Sports are a reflection of our society. I respect the push to divorce electoral politics from sports discussions, but I also believe our society is inextricably linked to sports. And unfortunately, our society is political.

After all, major political events and topics manifest in sports. Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947. 1980’s Miracle on Ice. Title IX’s impact on women’s sports. George W Bush’s first pitch at game 3 of the 2001 World Series. Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter. Heck, yesterday the president of U.S. Soccer, Carlos Cordeiro, resigned after U.S. soccer’s lawyers argued that the men’s team requires more “skill” and “responsibility” than the women’s team.

And, as frustrating as it is, sports are not immune to pandemics. Here we are, no more sports for the foreseeable future.

Sports mean a lot to me because they reflect society, not in spite of that fact. As much as America’s flaws, past and present, infuriate me, I do love this country. I love the people here, and I want us all to prosper.

So when sports are canceled, it is a symbol to me of how our society has failed. While not rational, it brings those fears of a post-apocalyptic world where I cannot trust my neighbor, and they cannot trust me.

Society is only going to collapse when we cease to love each other. In my mind, as long as there are sports, there is love. The good news is that sports are coming back; we just don’t know when.

In this time of uncertainty, I encourage you all to be abundant in your love for your neighbor. Find ways to meet the needs of your community. Lift one another up. There will be plenty of time to be selfish in the future — now is a time to come together.

It is love that will save our society, persevere pandemics, outlast war...

...and bring back sports.