Herald reporter Nick Patterson (far left) coaches Team Dark during the inaugural Comcast Arena Classic benefit lacrosse game in February of 2013. (Genna Martin/The Herald)

Herald reporter Nick Patterson (far left) coaches Team Dark during the inaugural Comcast Arena Classic benefit lacrosse game in February of 2013. (Genna Martin/The Herald)

Sportswriter learning to cope in a world devoid of sports

Let us know what sport you’re missing most by voting in our poll

I’ve never known life without sports. 

Some of my earliest memories are of lying on the rug in the living room of our house, taking my football cards and getting them in formation to run plays. Every spot needed to be filled by a someone who played that specific position, so Jack Lambert lined up at middle linebacker, Walter Payton was at running back, etc.

I was 12 was when I started getting serious about playing sports, thanks to being picked for my Little League all-star team and finally getting some decent coaching. I played baseball and other organized sports through high school, and I was active in recreational soccer leagues well into adulthood and hope to be so again — once I fully recover from back surgery.

I was in college when I first decided to pick up a pad and pencil and start writing about sports, joining the staff of our campus newspaper to contribute articles about the school’s athletic teams. That was some 20-plus years ago and I haven’t stopped since.

Sports have always been a central pillar in my life. So what we’re experiencing today? I’m not sure how else to say it other than my existence has become bizarre.

And I know, as I type the first of what I’m hoping will be a series of columns about life without sports, I’m not the only one feeling this way. I’m certain many of you are going through this, too.

The dates March 11-12, 2020, will forever be etched in my brain. Over the course of about 28 hours we witnessed the entire sports landscape vanish as a result of measures taken to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It was a bit like watching the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland do his disappearing act.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee got the ball rolling — or more accurately, was the first to stop the ball from rolling — on that fateful Wednesday morning when he enacted a ban on public gatherings of more than 250 people in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. That pretty much put an end to sports in the Puget Sound region.

But it was the NBA that really pulled the handbrake. That evening the Oklahoma City Thunder were hosting the Utah Jazz when, just before the game was about to tip, it was abruptly canceled. It was later confirmed that Utah center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver wasted no time, announcing later that night that the NBA season was being suspended indefinitely.

Other sports quickly followed suit, and by the time the NCAA announced the cancellation of its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments Thursday afternoon, it was clear we were heading into uncharted territory.

Now here we are, and you name it, it’s gone. High school? College? Professional? It’s all been shut down. Whether you’re a person who gets your sports fix as one of a couple dozen spectators watching kids play at the local park or you’re someone who absorbs the biggest sporting events on live television along with millions of others across the world, it’s been taken away.

I know I’m dealing with a void. I’m sure you are, as well.

But what’s leaving the biggest hole in your sporting sphere? Is it high school sports? Is it Everett Silvertips hockey? Is it the NCAA basketball tournaments? One of the professional leagues?

Let us know by participating in this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll. You can vote by visiting the online version of this story on The Herald’s website.

And in the meantime, know that I empathize with you. We’re all experiencing sports withdrawal, but we’ll get through this together.

Vote below, and if you pick “other,” let us know what you’re missing the most in the comments section.

If you have a personal story about living without sports you’d like to share — maybe you’re a super fan trying to figure out how to cope, maybe you’ve found a creative way to get your sports fix — email Nick Patterson at npatterson@heraldnet.com.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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