It was the first day of spring in far Southwest Virginia.
The temperature was 72 degrees, the sun was out and the birds were singing.
Basically it was the perfect afternoon for a baseball game. But in this surreal scene that seemed made for a Stephen King horror novel, all the baseball and softball fields were empty – except one.
And what a wonderful sight it was.
On a Little League field in Glade Spring, a father was playing catch and throwing batting practice to his two elementary school age sons.
Still dressed in his work uniform compete with a name patch, the father smiled each time one of his sons made contact with the ball and hustled around the bases.
In a time of extreme anxiety, fear and even depression, this vignette of small town life in America offered a dose of comfort.
Sure, we’re all frustrated and scared about the rapid spread of the coronavirus. It’s never been more important to embrace the simple things, to help neighbors, and to show compassion to all.
Sporting events are the toy box of life. Spring sports have been canceled along with motorsports and everything else. That’s no reason to give up on our teams and toys.
Here a few survival tips for fans of various sports.
Thanks to some ingenuity and teamwork, NASCAR will actually offer a live race this Sunday.
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational will be televised on Fox Sports beginning at 1:30 p.m. Heavy-hitters such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will be among the 35-driver field.
That’s not the only treat for NASCAR-starved fans. Round four of the Coca-Cola iRacing Series will be held at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on March 31 at 9 p.m.
While the Coca-Cola iRacing platform relies on proven Esport gamers instead of stars, the visuals from each track are stunning and the talent level is impressive. Races have already been held this season at Daytona, Auto Club Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Baseball fans can turn to the 1994 series Baseball. Legendary documentarian Ken Burns asked officials from PBS to stream his nine-part series free to help people of all ages cope with boredom and stress.
The series earned rave reviews from baseball experts, historians and novices of the game. Every part of the game is explored.
As fans of high school, college and pro football cross their fingers for a return to something approaching normalcy by the fall, a storehouse of fun and insight awaits in the world of NFL Films.
All the iconic players, games and stadiums can be found in these archives. The narrations are colorful, the camera work is first-rate, and the music is cinematic.
The NCAA tournament is like a holiday festival to basketball fans. Sadly, a different form of March Madness has now gripped the country.
Instead of enjoying buzzer-beaters, upsets, and the popular One Shining Moment video montage that follows the championship telecast on CBS, hoop diehards can take solace in replays of classic games on the ESPN family of networks.
If you prefer high school sports, the NFHS Network offers replays from 27 sports from around the country including far Southwest Virginia.
The best part of the streaming device is the chance to relive the drama of state championships. Several high schools in this region recently became part of the NFHS Network umbrella and have offered live coverage of football and basketball games this season.
Of course, the most educational way to pass the time is through newspapers and books.
Must reads include Four Days to Glory (high school wrestling), Stolen Season (minor league baseball), Fourth and Long (college football), Outside Shot (high school basketball) and NASCAR Legends.
Spring has finally arrived. There will be no games, but life moves on. Take this time to cherish the truly important things in life – family and fellowship.
Maybe even get outside and play a simple game of catch with a kid. That’s the essence of sports.