Strange Days


By Brian Hoffman – Sports Editor

Today is day 182 AG, or 182 days since Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and all sports as we knew them came to a halt. Friday will be six months, half a year, since all sports stopped due to that NBA game.

You can certainly say all sports “as we knew them” were curtailed at that point. If you remember, and who doesn’t, the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball all shut down and the NCAA basketball “March Madness” made everyone mad when it was cancelled. We had no NASCAR, no horse racing, not even golf back in March.

Things have changed since then, and mostly for the better. We still can’t go to sports but at least we can watch some stuff on TV. Last Saturday I watched big league baseball, Stanley Cup hockey, NBA basketball playoffs and the Kentucky Derby all on the same day. We’ve had NASCAR and golf for quite some time, although spectators aren’t included. Still, it’s better than nothing.

College football is here, although I won’t be there. When Virginia Tech plays host to the University of Virginia on September 19 it will mark the first time since I started working for the paper in 1974 that I won’t be at the Tech football games. I suspected as much, but I got the official word last week that photographers won’t be allowed on the sidelines this year except for the team photographer and a pool photographer from the ACC. I really don’t need photos of a pool, but whatever.

This pandemic has stopped many other individual streaks of mine. This will be the first year since 1960 that I will not have attended a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game other than the 1994 strike season, when we had tickets but the games were cancelled due to the strike. It will be the first season since the Nationals moved from Montreal to Washington that I won’t see the Nationals play live in DC.

This will likely be the first time since I was 8 years old that I won’t see a high school football game in the fall. That’s still up in the air, as North Cross will be playing a schedule and it remains to be seen what kind of “crowd” will be allowed at the game. The Raiders are playing some school named St. Michael the Archangel, and don’t tell me that won’t be a war. They play a home school team on September 18. Do they practice in someone’s back yard?

As you know the National Football League begins on Thursday of this week and I’m going to be watching a lot of those games, as I normally do anyway. I was hoping they’d play some games on Friday and Saturday, just for this season, to make up for the games we don’t have on those days.

Last week was normally the beginning of college football season, and we did have some games. In the afternoon we were excited to see Marshall beat Eastern Kentucky, 59-0, and Army didn’t appear to be a bunch of losers and suckers when they shut out Middle Tennessee, 42-0. In the evening the games were a little closer as SMU beat Texas State, 31-24, and Memphis downed Arkansas State, 37-24. By that time, however, I was switching back and forth between baseball, basketball and hockey.

This week is a little better with Syracuse at UNC, Duke at Notre Dame and Georgia Tech at Florida State highlighting the schedule. I assume there will be no fans and any of these games could get cancelled depending on how the virus goes.

Hopefully this virus will magically go away soon like the president assures us. He wouldn’t lie to us, would he?