Whether it is war or famine or any other catastrophe, humanity has a remarkable ability to adjust to the most extreme of circumstances. No matter how bad things get there is only so long we can maintain a sense of heightened awareness before we incorporate what it is into our normal routine and go about our daily lives.
The magnificent stubbornness of the human spirit
You only have to look at London during the Blitz where the rain of bombs became just another part of people’s day, to be worked around as they went about the business. While the coronavirus is far from over, we have seen how people have struggled to maintain that early response, the strict adherence to measures like social distancing gradually eroding until the next spike in numbers.
It's human nature, life goes on. And, nowhere is this more true than with sport. No sooner had competitions been suspended the lobbying to find a way to get things moving again, fuelled by the financial considerations of a billion-dollar industry and Australia’s passion for its state religion. Some organisations went about it carefully, making plans to minimise the risk, others went at it like...well, a rugby player in a china shop.
Playing for the conditions
But, if I am being honest, it is nice to see sport coming back. It’s also been fascinating watching the different ways coronavirus has changed different sports and the adjustments they have had to make. For sports where the crowd plays a major role it must be very strange for players to see empty stands (though it might just take them back to their local club days).
Of course, it is better to be playing with no crowd than not playing at all. However, it will be interesting to see how much it dilutes home ground advantage when you don’t have your supporters urging you on. Some athletes seem to feed of the crowd and use it to lift themselves to another level. Warney is probably glad he is retired rather than walk out to silence!
Out of touch
While it is easier for non-contact sports to maintain hygiene it still has an impact. How many Test series would have ended very differently if bowlers hadn’t been able to use saliva—mint free, one hopes—to shine the ball? Some tennis players will no doubt be happy that refusing to shake an opponent’s hand is no longer poor sportsmanship but adhering to good hygiene practices.
Fortunately, soccer players will still be able to dive during games, contact was never required and won’t be missed. But, there are some sports where no matter how hard you try you can’t avoid some physical contact. Of course, sports like rugby and boxing might be able to hire former professional wrestlers to teach them how to give the appearance of getting up close and personal without actually having to do so.
But that’s the thing about sport. Those of us who love it will put up with anything to keep the show on the road. Fielding a cricket team with only six people on your side because that’s the minimum you need to make a game legitimate, or playing in a torrential downpour that you all pretend is drizzle because once you go off you can't get back on, we tragics will do whatever it takes.
This is just that writ large, and I am happy to see it, because it proves that even a global pandemic can’t stop us playing our sport. If it was any different then I would know that we really were doomed. But, for now, I can relax, sit back, and watch whatever developments come next!
David Goodwin is the former Editor of The Salvation Army’s magazine,War Cry. He is also a cricket tragic, and an unapologetic geek.
David Goodwin archive of articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-goodwin.html