A new appreciation for sports

The coronavirus pandemic has taught people a multitude of things. One of the biggest takeaways for me so far is to try and enjoy the moments I can and not worry so much about what is to come.

In past sports seasons, while covering or watching regular-season games or competitions, there was always a part of me that also was thinking about the playoffs. My attention was focused on the present, but the thought of the future was also intriguing.

The pandemic has completely changed my view, and it’s really helped me appreciate sports even more than I used to.

Players have also had to change their approach to the game.

Take high school-aged baseball players, for instance. In a typical summer, Legion baseball teams spend most of June and July playing for the playoffs, hoping to steadily improve and then be playing their best ball when regionals roll around.

That all changed this summer when the American Legion canceled its season. That left teams around the state scrambling. While many cities still ended up fielding teams, it certainly wasn’t the same as in the past.

Teams that played weren’t associated with their typical Legion posts, and any regional or state tournaments were also done away with.

Even though games were essentially exhibition ones, it didn’t take away the competitive spirit of athletes; yet the players still seemed to be having fun and enjoyed the opportunity to play again after having their spring sports taken away.

I’ve tried to take a similar approach when watching the Milwaukee Brewers during the restart of the professional baseball season. The approach seems even more meaningful after the news of a coronavirus outbreak on the Miami Marlins rocked the MLB world early in the week.

When I first heard the news, I seriously wondered if the MLB might have to shut down its season after just four days of action. The MLB decided to press onward, but now I can’t get the thought of the league shutting down again out of my head.

Brian Anderson, the Brewers play-by-play sportscaster for Fox Sports Wisconsin, said it best before Milwaukee opened its series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday. “Every time we get to a first pitch of a ballgame, it feels like a small victory for Major League Baseball right now.”

Summed up, basically the season could end tomorrow, or it could be played in its entirety. It’s a harsh reality, but once I wrapped my head around it, it’s really helped me appreciate the MLB games more.

If you’re like me, the return of baseball has also helped bring some positivity back into life.

While many complain about MLB games that last too much longer than three hours, it doesn’t seem like the time of a game matters much to fans this summer. Social media was buzzing during the Brewers extra-inning victory over the Pirates on Monday, a game that included a nearly two-hour rain delay before wrapping up just before midnight in Wisconsin.

While the pandemic has MLB games looking completely different, with no fans and masks galore, the several hours spent watching a game helps push the doom and gloom of the pandemic to the back of our minds — at least for a little bit.

Of course, wins and losses are still what fans focus on, but I’m more than happy just to be able to watch sports again, whether that be for the next several months or the rest of the day.

Enjoy the entertainment while you can, and take every small positive as a win — because we simply don’t know what the future holds.

Morgan Rode is the sports editor for NEW Media. Readers can contact him at sports@newmedia-wi.com.