Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal. ~George Will.
The pandemic has upset America’s apple cart.
People have lost their anchors and the rallying points have surrounded crisis, chaos and confusion. Yes, God is the answer, but often we need a sign, a common goal and something to gather around that doesn’t bring dispute, cavernous divides and discord.
In past disasters and tragedies, churches and sports ran to the rescue in a traditional sense.
- During World War II, boxing and baseball were still on the agenda, and it was a rallying point for Americans.
- After 9/11, George W. Bush and other leaders insisted that baseball return quickly. It was back just 10 days after the Twin Towers were toppled in the most significant attack on U.S. soil in history. Many baseball players resisted the quick return because of the overwhelming emotion of the attack, but they played for America. Fans rallied across the nation.
- After Katrina, churches around Louisiana came together to cook thousands of meals every day, help business and people dig out of the muck and rebuild the Crescent City. The Saints became a focal point, and the team signed Drew Brees just a few months later. He and the Saints have been an anchor for the city since.
- The U.S. Hockey team victory over Russia and ultimately winning the Gold Medal in 1980 brought American unity during the Cold War.
Whether it was Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch, Rick Monday saving the American flag, Mary Lou Retton, Jesse Owens or the Miracle on Ice, sports has been the salve for adversity and the unity of friends and foe alike.
Yes, as a side note, I realize that professional sports have lost their allure somewhat in the modern-day mega-bucks dalliance between players and owners. Nonetheless, fans will cheer the return. And no, it may not change opinions, but it can start the conversation and perhaps change perspective, give a breather to on-going struggles and breathe life into a society that has gone off its axis.
Once again, baseball is back! And it’s a rallying point and opportunity that many groups, creeds, races, friends and enemies to put aside the craziness of the moment and enjoy. You can squabble over the changes for this 60-game season rather than the popular Facebook arguments of the day.
Baseball is unique though. It provides the avenue to get away from reality, if only for a few hours, and it gives the opportunity for enemies to break away from the oft unpleasantness of our society. See the video to the right of the experience shortly after 9/11.
The PGA is back, and so is NASCAR, but you may not have noticed if you aren’t a niche fan of those sports. The NFL says it will start up on schedule in August and the NBA is due back soon as well, albeit in a bubble in Orlando. Meanwhile, the NCAA is not sure what college football or basketball will look like this fall.
Most every sport will at least begin with no fans in the stands, and that will be weird, if not bizarre. Still, it’s a start, and the competitiveness of players on the field will likely drive a renewed and different conversation, one that is not only needed but welcomed.
In a day when there is much chaos among the chaos, many churches have struggled to find their voice during the confusion and business is hanging on in survival mode, here’s America’s opportunity to return a semblance of normalcy.
Even if for a moment, sit back and take a breath. Try having a conversation in front of a baseball game. At least you’ll start on common ground in familiar territory. Argue over balls and strikes, safe or out and watch home runs together.
Baseball is back! It may seem corny, but maybe just maybe, baseball can help to reset America’s apple cart.