Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.
COVID-19 has taken its toll on just about everyone over the last several months, and it’s spared almost no industry.
Sports have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with most sports briefly halting their seasons in mid-March. It’s been four months since then, and besides NASCAR and PGA, professional sports leagues are just starting to get back up and running in the United States.
I remember the moment when I personally realized things were about to change in the sports world. I’d just sat down for a (rare) relaxing evening watching basketball with my boyfriend when we simultaneously stumbled across some concerning news on Twitter: the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game we were about to watch suddenly had been canceled.
Stunned, we looked for an answer, and it took us no more than 10 minutes to find. Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
That’s when my boyfriend looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I think things are about to change. For all of us. Fast.”
And they did.
Another 10 minutes later, the NBA announced it’d indefinitely suspended its season. Nearly every other professional sports league followed suit, leaving sportswriters, like myself, in a seemingly impossible position.
With no sports, I wondered, what would we write about? Would there even be any news for us to cover? How would we continue to do our jobs with everything we cover suddenly shut down? And were our jobs safe?
Weirdly enough, many outlets managed to make the best of a bad situation. And thankfully, at least for New England sports outlets, there was plenty to write about between Tom Brady’s departure from the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski’s un-retirement, the protests against racial injustice attended and supported by numerous professional athletes and leagues’ attempts to resume or begin their respective seasons.
Others, while capitalizing on the latter, haven’t been so lucky. Countless talented reporters have lost their jobs due to crippling budget cuts stemming from the financial impacts of the pandemic, many of which were renowned in their own right. It’s left gaping holes in some of the biggest beats in the city and giant holes in the hearts of dedicated readers everywhere.
Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize all the blood, sweat and tears sportswriters have passionately put into their work while enduring the pandemic. Though some days have been easier than others, the last four months have been an absolute grind covering sports.
And, like most sports fans, sportswriters have been reeling from the lack of sports because, naturally, we live sports. We eat sports. We drink sports. We sleep sports. We BREATHE sports. Our entire lives revolve around sports, and to have them suddenly ripped away from us has been tragic on its own, let alone the impact it’s had on our careers.
Perhaps I’m speaking for myself on this one, but one of my biggest frustrations with the pandemic’s impact on sports is my occasional inability to draw attention away from some of the tougher things in life. COVID-19, after all, has had a devastating impact on several aspects of our daily lives: our jobs, family lives, social lives, the economy and our general sanity, just to name a few. One of my favorite parts of being a writer is being able to entertain readers with sports, especially if things in real life aren’t exactly peachy for everyone outside of it.
After all, sports are what we typically looked to as an escape from life before the pandemic began. And people still are relying on it in any way possible to distract them now. And while there’s extra pressure to produce quality content, it hasn’t been a simple task.
But sportswriters deserve more than just a pat on the back. They deserve some thanks, too. Of course, they aren’t on the front lines risking their lives to battle the virus head-on like nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers. (Though those workers deserve some special thanks of their own.) But they deserve a little recognition, too. Writers have been scrounging around for just about any possible story, not just for themselves or their company, but to help provide readers some sort of escape from the chaotic world around them.
So to any sportswriter that’s worked through this pandemic, employed still or not, bravo. And thank you from one writer to another.
Thank you for everything you’ve accomplished. Thank you for finding ways to find a story when it isn’t always there. Thank you for putting a smile on people’s faces when they needed it most. Thank you for never giving up and pushing forward even when the going gets tough. And, most importantly, thank you for your passion and dedication to your craft — though it might seem trivial at times as this pandemic rolls along, it’s sometimes worth more than you ever could fathom.
I’ve met some of the most genuine people while working in the sports industry, and its incredible to see the passion they bring to their job each and every day no matter the circumstances. Even in the wake of COVID-19, they’ve managed to stand their ground and combat the pandemic in their own unique way, with their pens (or, rather, their keyboards).
Kudos, guys. You’re the best.
Anywho, here’s a look at some other interesting stories from your Wednesday:
— Cam Newton officially is a member of the Patriots.
The Patriots honored the move with an epic hype video, too.
Some personnel news. pic.twitter.com/io44CBQMa8
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) July 8, 2020
Welcome to New England, Cam.
— Paycheck Protection Program loans were pretty hard for small businesses to obtain at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tom Brady, however, managed to snag one.
Brady’s TB12 Inc. company received anywhere from $350,000 to $1 million from the Cares Act program, according to The New York Times. What’s more, the loan reportedly was approved six days after the company announced its decision to expand it’s brick and mortar presence to Tampa, New York and Los Angeles.
Not a good look, pal.
— Man, Antonio Brown loves to stir up drama.
The 31-year-old hasn’t played in the NFL since his time with the Patriots in Sept. 2019. But Brown’s latest Instagram post certainly raised some eyebrows.
Take a look for yourself:
This isn’t the first time Brown’s hinted at something on social media, only for nothing to ultimately materialize. So let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here, shall we?
— Speaking of former Patriots, Stephen Gostkowski could have a new home sooner rather than later.
Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said the team still has “confidence” in kicker Greg Joseph, but didn’t shy away from the chance to pick up a veteran like Gostkowski, who was released by the Pats on March 23.
“It’d be (Joseph’s) job to lose but we want as competitive a position there as possible,” Robinson told Paul Kuharsky, via ProFootballTalk. (Gostkowski) is another guy who’d we’d have to come in and check, but yeah, absolutely.”
*insert eyes emoji here*
Stat of the Day
Ten years ago today…
On this date 10 years ago, LeBron shocked the sports world by announcing that he would be leaving Cleveland and "taking his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Heat."
In 4 seasons in Miami, he led the Heat to 4 straight Finals appearances and brought 2 rings to Miami. pic.twitter.com/jjvyGpFzHB
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 8, 2020
Tweet of the Day
Off to Orlando they go!
Masks on, wheels up 🛫 pic.twitter.com/6rLfwMH1SV
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 8, 2020
Video of the Day
Yes, Enes. Yes.
👀 on 1️⃣8️⃣ pic.twitter.com/GhLBHQT5wg
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 8, 2020
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images