By Ben Wright (@benwright), editor.
This is not something I thought I'd say two weeks into Nashville SC's expansion season in Major League Soccer, but we find ourselves once again eagerly awaiting the return of soccer.
Right now, sports and entertainment is pretty low on the global list of priorities, as it should be. Covid-19 is real and scary and unknown, and I'm glad that the majority of leagues around the world have taken steps to get ahead of the worst of it and try to keep players, staff and fans as safe as possible.
However, that means lots of us are isolated at home for the foreseeable future without that common bond and interest to keep us connected to each other, to give us that sense of togetherness even when we're apart.
If you're like me and continuously refresh your twitter feed, you're consistently inundated with the latest graph on the coronavirus pandemic instead of a breakdown of MLS passes into zone 14.
If you're like me, you're probably a bit scared. What will happen to my job when the economy inevitably takes a hit? Will my pregnant wife and asthmatic son be ok? Will I retain my sanity while I'm locked in the house watching Frozen on a loop with my daughter?
Right now would be a great time to have the distraction of sports while we all fight through the next couple weeks. It would be a relief to be able to watch and talk about whatever team you support, regardless of if they're prolific or terrible, if they're in the race for a champions league spot or fighting relegation, if they're in the conversation for a Supporters Shield or if they were written off before a ball was even kicked.
When I think about it, though, it's not the actual games that makes sports so special. It's the shared experiences, the collective memories, and the community that arises from common passion. My friend John Sloop has written a lot about what it means to support a team and be part of that community, saying "In some ways, it provides both a family and a way to escape or avoid the existential crisis caused by something as minor as an emotional blip to something as major and abstract as the knowledge of our own ultimate death."
So, what do we do while sports (and the whole world) are on pause?
The games aren't happening, but the relationships and communities we've built through them haven't gone anywhere.
It will look different. We're not going to be able to hang out at a tailgate before cheering and screaming on our feet for 90+ minutes. We're not going to be able to grab a bite in the press box with a friend while we eagerly await to get information on the lineups. We're not going to be able to hit up a local bar to drink at an otherwise inappropriately early hour while cheering on a team we love although we're separated by an ocean.
This is where we need to get creative. Find ways to interact with the friends you've made, the community that makes the game so special. We live in a time where physical distance no longer means complete isolation. Take advantage of that.
Be safe. There are plenty of really smart people out there trying to figure out how we can beat this thing. Listen to them. Keep a safe distance between yourself and other people, and understand why people don't want to get close to you. Stay home as much as you can. Work from home if possible. Avoid crowded areas. Don't shake hands. Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. WASH YOUR HANDS. Read this information from the CDC on what to do if you do get Covid-19, and try to avoid overloading our healthcare systems if it's not absolutely necessary. And for the love of all things holy, PLEASE STOP BUYING ALL THE TOILET PAPER!!!*
At Speedway, we're thinking of content we can put out over the next few weeks to keep you entertained. I don't know what that will look like just yet. Some of it will be soccer-related. Some of it won't. A lot of it will be pretty ridiculous, and will probably grow increasingly out-there as we grow increasingly stir crazy. Keep interacting with us. Let us know what you want to talk about. At this point, no ideas are too crazy.
Finally, try to stay positive. Things can look bleak right now, and might get worse before they get better.
We will get through this. Be creative. Find ways to interact with others while staying safe. Before long, we'll be watching the sport we love again.
*This is hopefully obvious, but I'm not a doctor. Please consult your primary care provider or another health professional for information and advice.
The above is the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Speedway Soccer as a whole.