Sunday Thoughts: A (Very Strange) Year In Sport
Nicklaus Kruger, 14 March 2021
One year ago, we inhabited a very different world – a world where most of us had never heard of things like PPE, or lockdown levels, vaccine efficacy, curfews. But since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic…well, things have changed.
Today, we inhabit a world where millions have been infected, economies have been devastated, and many lives – too many lives – have been lost. (And it’s not over yet – so try to stay safe, okay?)
It’s a world where there’s more to worry about than whether there’ll be football on TV tonight (and yes, there probably will be – there’s a lot of football out there…but more on that later). But if sports have taught us anything, it’s that you’ve got to keep fighting – it ain’t over until they blow the final whistle, right?
So now we’re living in “the new normal” – or, as many prefer, “the new abnormal”. But whichever one you prefer, that “the” is a bit misleading…because there’s no singular norm (or abnorm, for that matter). Because we’re actually in a world where normal can change on a whim: where one day you can go to the beach, and another you can’t; one day you can stay out until midnight, the next you’d better be home by 9pm (or else); and don’t even get me started on cigarettes and booze.
Sport has had to adapt. So we’ve seen: the shutdown and reopening of amateur and professional leagues; a huge growth in ESports (and that classic e-sport, chess); a massive increase in home fitness routines; the rise of virtual tournaments for physical world sports; the development of tournaments held in “bio-bubbles” (and the inevitable failures and infections associated with that); the cancellation or postponement of championships big and small (remember the 2020 Olympics?).
Cape At 6 was there, in the trenches – and over the last year or so, week by week, we’ve taken a good long look at sport in a time of COVID…and in all that time, even I couldn’t help but learn a few things.
Sport Is Everywhere
There is a lot of sport out there. A LOT. There are tens of thousands of amateur athletes in Cape Town alone (and I’ve been reliably informed that that’s likely a pretty big underestimate). And while COVID has had some effect on that (on the amount of people participating, at least – what with ever-changing lockdown regulations on where you can practice, when you can exercise, how you can work out, etc.), there are still games and tournaments and competitions and whatnot every day. And that’s just the actual physical activity part of it. True sports fans know that it isn’t just about the brawn – it’s about the brains as well.
And we don’t just mean the players and the coaches, either: all over the world, thousands of brains are working on sport- and exercise-related research, uncovering new wisdom, confirming old truths, and letting us know that things aren’t quite as simple as we always thought. It’s kind of amazing how much science there is in sport – and kind of awesome as well.
Sport Is For Geeks
Sports *fans* are – and I mean this in the nicest way possible – huge geeks. They’re obsessed with obscure lore (who won the 1963 Quidditch World Cup?), they keep track of weird numbers and stats (runs per over, league rankings, etc.) and they’re extremely passionate about this stuff. I may not understand all this stuff (okay, let me be honest, I don’t understand it), but I do understand the extreme dedication to things that don’t really matter to most of our daily lives – I’m a guy who’s read pretty much every Green Lantern comic since 1959, and I’m all too happy to tell you about it. And the drama on the field (or in the ring, or on the court, or whatever) is just part of the story. It’s not just about the clash of champions, and the race to excellence, and the joys of optimal human performance. There’s also the story behind the story – the kickbacks, the racism, the courtside Karens, the rise of athletic activism. Sports fans actually care about that stuff.
Sports aren’t just about having the biggest biceps, or the fastest legs, or even the best hand-eye coordination. There’s more to being an athlete than just physical skills, and sport, as an activity and pastime, enables the facilitation of important life-skills that empower, fulfil and unite youth in a way that little else does. Sport is full of life lessons.
Work hard, and continue to work hard. Don’t give up just because you had a bad game, or even had a few of them. And at the end of the day, remember that it’s about how you played, not whether you won or lost. You know, all the cliches – but there’s a reason we use them. And we need to remember that sporting activities give kids a way to channel their ambitions, a place to be after school where they can socialize and learn. And let’s not forget the inspirational awesome folks who just happen to be amazing at some game or other. These folks inspire us to dream big – and maybe, just maybe, change the world.
Not exactly deep stuff, I know – but hey, we all learn something new every day, right?
COVID-19 has taken the world into uncharted waters, and we have learned the hard way that the pandemic is here to stay. These are tough times for the amateur sports sector, and for all of us, as individuals facing losses – of jobs, of lives, of families and friends.
But life has to go on.
We just need to play our part and follow the game plan, by sticking to the proper precautions and protocols. And remember: we’re all in it together.
And that’s a year in sport.
So…did we miss anything? Of course we did – so why not let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org? And feel free to check out the latest issue of the Cape At 6 magazine. Sports geekery guaranteed!