We Need Us

When I started this website I obviously did not foresee a global pandemic and so many more struggles deterring us from what used to be normal life. I had anticipated being able to share experiences as they happened, writing posts on the buses to a weekend series, and being able to share both successes and frustrations. But today, I write frustrated with the concept of being a student-athlete right now.

In a world of such uncertainty, universities, schools, staff, students or athletes don’t really have a grasp on what’s going on. None of us have been here before and it’s uncomfortable and weird. I personally have no idea how things are going to operate in the next few months. Some schools are remotely learning, some are hybrid, and some are still trying to meet in person. So let’s break down all of the perspectives involved.

First things first, we need a statement from the NCAA as a whole. We need them to give us some support in decision making. You obviously can’t put a “bubble” on college campuses, and there is really no controlling the majority of students. But, the NCAA has to connect with their athletes to tell them how things are going to get better.

First thing has got to be avoiding parties and social gatherings. We need somebody to tell us that if we do that, all of our seasons come back sooner. Here’s the deal about a vaccine, and this is a tough pill to swallow. If a vaccine gets approved and produced in January, our spring seasons are still in question. If the infection rates are high and the spread is increased because of our inability to control ourselves now and through the fall, it’ll take that much longer on the back end to get control back. Spring seasons start in the back end of February.

As college athletes we’ve done so much… we have missed social opportunities every weekend for years, we have given precious time and money, we have traveled, we have given so much in both sacrifice and discipline. Why does it stop now? All of that work to get here, then once you’re here, it’s not worth it anymore?

Believe it or not, a handful of student-athletes feel that maybe it’s not worth it anymore. It’s something I didn’t witness or realize until I got there. The schedules and the demands are sometimes too much stress and anxiety on young people. That’s real. The news of a season being cancelled ushers in relentless partying because there’s a burden that’s finally lifted. “We” can finally be “normal.” Even though when you sign your NLI, you’re forgoing the typical “college experience.” That’s why we need some leadership to remind us that it’s worth it. To remind us what we are here for and how we got here. To remind us that they have our back and will help us as we help ourselves. To tell us, “just give us two semesters of your college experience to help save your careers.”

I keep saying “us” because we all need “us.” Even if one school follows the rules to a tee and is prepared for the season, we need opponents. We just saw that in the MLB with the Miami Marlins wiping out a week and a half of scheduling. If Towson is the only CAA school ready to go, so what? Who do we play? We need almost every sport in every program to cooperate. Seems like a tall demand, but it is. With nobody to say, “hey, we have your backs,” it becomes an even more daunting task.

We need our communities, too. Wear a damn mask.

Then there’s the money and entertainment perspective. With college football and basketball seasons in the air, the general public’s Twitter fingers go crazy. That’s a whole helluva lotta money impacted by a general safety issue. My least favorite comment of all time is the “well they’re 20 something year old peak athlete football players, they’ll probably be asymptomatic and just fine.” This is the all-time worst take of all-time ever. Did I mention that? Every athlete is a human, and I’m lucky to call some of these people friends. There are also probably 100 personnel members that travel and work with football teams daily, including coaches and staff that are middle aged or older. The players are around other people in classes and the community. And additionally we don’t know what the long term health effects are on anybody. Just a horribly selfish Twitter take.

I get all of the money involved, too. I want football and basketball to happen so badly. I don’t know if I can deal with the next March Madness being in 2022. Plus the revenue from those sports help the other sports programs survive. We need those seasons as badly as you want them, but that doesn’t make it necessarily smart.

This virus thing also absolutely stinks for any athlete. To lose a year of competition in any sport is horrible. High school prospects are trying to get to the college level with no high school sports. College athletes looking for breakout years to finally get a professional pay check. Guys in the pros are trying to establish their careers. Girls in the prime of their careers are having to wait it out. Players towards the end of their careers still trying to find both the motivation and the energy to continue to play at a high level. It impacts everybody and it’s difficult mentally, emotionally and physically.

The bottom line is that everyone needs each other right now. It goes so far beyond your life today. Our individual decisions impact all of our lives as a society for months, or maybe even years. Sharing perspectives is a beautiful thing, and that is a big reason why I started this website, too. The average mind loves their sports but doesn’t know how to help make them happen. We all need to sacrifice for each other. I’ve had friends lose their fall seasons, peers lose their senior years, and role models lose their jobs.

Keep praying, keep the faith, and keep positive. If you’re not a fan of what you have to do to help your neighbors, suck it up. We need each other. Plus as a general note, there are many more immunocompromised and higher risk people than you realize. Just because you might not be one doesn’t mean your actions don’t effect people who are.

I encourage you to share some perspectives with me in the comments about how your actions or your community’s actions impact your life and activities that you’re missing right now.

Until next time,

-B.F.

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