Last Sunday, while waiting to run a slow-speed 100 at a San Diego all-comers meet, one of my friends asked me urgently: Do you think indoor nationals will be canceled?
She would turn 70 on Thursday, the day before the meet, and was looking forward to a bunch of medals as the baby of her age group. She considered me in-the-know. So I confidently predicted Baton Rouge nationals would go on. “It’s way too late to cancel,” I said.
Everyone knows how that turned out.
Since Monday, when the LOC wisely pulled the plug and later announced refunds of entry fees, I’ve watched my masters friends on Facebook (and via private email) express every sort of emotion. I grokked them all (even though I wasn’t entered). Originally, I was going to cull the best comments and post them here. But I’ve been overwhelmed at work and didn’t have time.
Besides, current events are coming at us like a freight train. Things are happening too fast. Hard to capture quickly changing sentiment — now shared by our Canadian masters friends (their indoor nats spiked).
By now, everyone knows how serious this crisis is. Cancellation of pro sports seasons and March Madness. Schools closing by the thousands. Colleges (including where my wife teaches) going to “distance learning.”
I’m almost as dim as I am slow, but I have some advice.
Let’s accept this ordeal the way we do every other setback in our track careers and family/work lives. With patience and rationality.
When injured, we rehab religiously. When at the upper end of an age group, we bide our time till we age up. When faced with adversity, we rely on maturity.
Same with this ulta-nuisance. Let’s do the right thing. Wash hands, keep distance and avoid crowds. And not waste energy with woe-as-me groaning.
My heart aches for collegians whose track seasons are lost. But I smile at how we take the long view — seeing ourselves running, jumping and throwing in five, 10 or 50 years. Talk about event horizons. How lucky can we get? Having a sport that transcends the Dow, the virus and everything but climate change.
We’re already role models as athletes. (Even I get cheers for being a geezer still wearing spikes.) Let’s be examples for modern maturity as well. Show the young’ns how to support each other (call Mom and Dad, check on your neighbors) and look beyond the gloom-and-doom headlines (even ones I write for Times of San Diego).
As I said at the dawn of the Net: Why do they call us masters? Because we’re not slaves anymore. Not slaves to fear. Not slaves to panic. Not slaves to depression.
We will overcome this. We will see track come back. We will outlive the couch potatoes and Debbie Downers.
Until then, let’s heed health experts, backstop our buddies and stay hopeful for our future.
In other words: Keep our heads down but chins up.
We’re all Italians now.
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) March 13, 2020
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