When the suspension of professional sports was first announced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a few months ago, I was frustrated, disappointed, conflicted and like many others, in denial. The first thing that came to mind was “What do you mean? What am I supposed to do to relax during the weekend after a long week at work?” Watching sports is my way to unwind and what I have done for years. Instead, now I watch the Food Channel with my wife and end up putting on more pounds which I really, really do not need! Then, believe or not, I also watched Masterpiece Theater movies like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Can you imagine me doing that? And most of all, now I don’t have any good excuses for why the Honey Do List has not been done for so many months? But come to think of it, maybe it was not such a bad idea to be at home and not spend so much time watching sports. I started gardening again and even planted a few herbs, eggplant and some Hawaiian chili peppers. My nephew also got involved and made a couple of planter boxes for my wife’s vegetable garden. Actually, it is refreshing to be working together in our yard, tending to our little garden. Best of all we get to eat and enjoy what we have grown!
Come to think of it, what about making a list of activities you most enjoy, then placing them in order of priority. Next, get out your calendar and schedule these activities, especially on the weekend and other times when you would usually be watching sports. Keep a note to help you remember how it feels to be doing more, to be enjoying again some things you have neglected and make sure some of the people you have not been with for a while are included, even if only by phone or text or email. Sometimes we have to be prodded to regain perspective of what is truly important, right?
As the COVID-19 pandemic became more serious, I began to realize the decision to suspend the games was the right decision. Now that it has been months without sports to watch, I must admit I don’t miss it one bit.
More recently, professional sports are negotiating how to begin their seasons, in spite of the health risks. The most respected medical expert on COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director, National Institutes of Health), threw the first pitch in the opening game for Major League Baseball with the Washington Nationals. The National Basketball Association has already kicked off in Florida which is currently the epicenter of the pandemic. And not to be outdone, the National Football League is planning their kickoff in September. More and more, fans like me are beginning to see these actions as the height of irresponsibility, with widespread acknowledgment that these will result in spikes of sick people, lack of hospital beds and eventually a higher death rate, all totally unnecessary in the perspective of life versus entertainment. Furthermore, the athletes are the most at risk because these are contact sports and there’s no way to play the game otherwise. Wearing facemasks and practicing social distancing? Not likely. Are we going to place the owners’ financial interests above the health and safety of the players and fans? These competitions endanger players, accelerate the general spread of the virus and increase exposure to the most vulnerable. Let’s all agree we can wait until the virus is no longer a threat. Perhaps the best attitude of athletes is expressed by Ryan Schwaner, a student who enrolled at the University of Denver to play golf, “When all the spring sports and state championships were canceled due to COVID-19, I was truly devastated because I felt that I missed out on the opportunity to show my hard work that I have put in the past four years, but at the end of the day … has given me so many great friendships and memories, and for that, I will forever grateful … So, thank you to high school sports.”
Another kind of non-contact competition is the election of officers for our local government. Campaigning has been directly impacted by COVID-19, eliminating the highly popular face-to-face experiences such as rallies, fundraiser meals and door-to-door canvassing. Don’t you miss the chicken hekka and pork and peas gatherings, where the candidates fervently promised better health care for our kūpuna, affordable housing for residents and even those without shelter? Are you still waiting to win the bag of rice or toilet paper? What about the coffee hours where you talked more with the friends you had not seen for a long time instead of paying attention to the discussion? AND, of course, we are all participating in the coconut wireless, still the most used means of getting current information otherwise known as local gossip!
Social distancing prevents all these memory-making person-to-person contacts. Instead, candidates and supporters alike are adjusting to online and technological avenues such as social media, ZOOM, email messaging, or PSAs (public service announcements) on radio or TV. The candidate unfamiliar with these new modes of communication are at some disadvantage as are the supporters who still prefer a personal conversation while shaking hands, hugging and enjoying food together. However, it is also clear social media communications might be the forte and more comfortable medium for the candidate who is not a people person.
Finally, our hearty CONGRATULATIONS to the candidates who were winners in the Primary Election. As you move on to the General Election, we wish you good luck and thank you for choosing a life of public service.