Athletic Support: ‘Lost Without Sports’

Dear Athletic Support: I have two high-school-aged boys. My husband and I are both lucky enough to work from home. We’re following proper social-distancing guidelines. Nobody leaves the house. The hardest part, though, has been trying to get through our days without sports. Both of my boys are athletes, and I’ll be honest, they are lost now that their seasons have been canceled. It’s the same way with my husband. To make matters worse, there aren’t even any sports on TV. Watching them mope around the house is very painful for me. Without sports, it’s like they don’t have anything left to talk about. What, if anything, can we do to pass the time? — Waiting on the World to Change

Dear Waiting: You and your family are not alone. Across our country, there are millions of young athletes who are currently feeling the pain of a sport-less world. These are young men and women who have invested a great deal of time and energy in their chosen activity, only to have it yanked away from them as the school year enters the fourth quarter.

When I was a boy, there was always something about warmer weather that screamed sports to me. Mowers cranking up around the neighborhood went hand in hand with all sorts of outdoor activities. Baseball. Swimming. Track and Field. You name it. If it meant finally being able to get outside again, I was ready to go.

I’m sure your boys feel the same way, but you’re doing the right thing by keeping them away from their friends. Our country is currently up against a formidable opponent in COVID-19, and the only way we’re going to beat it is as a team.

I’m so glad to hear you’re not letting your boys out of the house during all of this mess. It’d be easy to allow them to meet up at the local basketball courts for a quick pickup game, but as parents, we should all be thinking ahead, past however long these new guidelines will last. If you stick to the rules, you’ll be able to use this hardship as a lesson, a pivotal point in your sons’ lives that you can point to and say, “Remember how we stuck it out?”

The point here is that your boys are watching. Kids everywhere have their eyes glued to their parents, waiting to see how they should behave during these unprecedented times. You want to talk about sports? Take this as an opportunity to teach your children a lesson in grit and perseverance. Use the metaphor of our country as a team if you have to, doing our best to flatten the curve and save lives in the process.

After you’ve had your little heart-to-heart talk with them, go out in the backyard and play catch. Shoot some hoops in the driveway. Find joy in the simple movements of your body. Cherish the time you have together. The crowds and the scoreboards don’t make the game, the people do.

Note on “Workout” column: A few weeks back I wrote a column about staying in shape during a pandemic. I mentioned using pillowcases stuffed with books as a substitute for dumbbells. I received a letter not long after from a seventy-year-old man who suggested five-gallon paint buckets as a possible stand-in for weight-room equipment. If the buckets are attached to a sturdy pole with duct tape, the user could perform exercises such as squat and bench press. Just be careful and don’t add too much weight. The focus for all young athletes right now should be staying in shape and not trying to make strength gains. If anyone in your house gives it a try, let me know how it goes!

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