There is nothing that represents the beginning of April more than “One Shining Moment” (after the National Championship basketball game). There is nothing that represents the middle of April like the crack (or ping if it is aluminum) of a bat. There is nothing that represents the end of April more than watching the lacrosse ball hit the back of the net (and just hang there for a second). While all this happens, cue the crowds jumping to their feet and roaring in the background. It is all that is wonderful about sports. It is all that is wonderful about April.
As I walk by the local elementary school (and park), I notice that the basketball rims have been taken off the backboards. No Shining Moment. As I drive by the community baseball field (gripping the dashboard because my daughter is driving me), I notice that the entrance gate to the field is locked and a sign is posted on the pitcher’s mound that reads “Closed Until Further Notice.” No crack or ping of the bat. As I run by the local high school, the varsity football field is closed and the lacrosse nets are locked to a fence behind the far goalposts. No ball in the back of the net. This April there won’t be any fans jumping to their feet and roaring. The courts and the fields will remain quiet.
But at the end of March, there is a glimmer of hope that sports will be back. As I walk by a neighbor’s house, there is a pickup basketball game going on. Dad is trying really hard, maybe too hard, as he takes on his three little kids, but there is laughter and there is “One Shining Moment” when the littlest girl shoots the ball over her dad’s outreached hand and it swishes the net. As I run by a house near the school, I hear the ping of a bat. Could it be? Yes. There is a middle school girl in her driveway hitting a softball off of a tee and into a net. She’s crushing it. As I drive by a house in another neighborhood close to my own, I see a boy getting ready to attempt to score a lacrosse goal against his little sister. You can barely tell it’s a little girl because she’s in a football helmet, chest protector, lacrosse gloves that are way too big, and she is wearing arm and leg pads (the cutest part is that she is wearing a skirt). She is looking like a true goalie, but her skills aren’t sharp enough because her brother rips one by her and the tennis ball (I hope its not a lacrosse ball) hangs in the net for a millisecond. With every scenario, I wanted to jump up and roar, and in fact, I imagine a crowd jumping up and roaring. It leaves me with the hope that there will be something to cheer about soon.
Believe me, I have been cheering. I have been cheering on the nurses, doctors, police officers, mailmen/mailwomen, grocery store workers, firefighters, teachers, and all of the other people who have been helping through this difficult time. Sports aren’t life, but it provides life with competition, determination, passion, teamwork, self-esteem, accountability, leadership, and physical health. It provides balance. So, April might be as “normal” as March, but there is still hope for May and that we will hear those two beautiful words, “Play ball.”