The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, with now over 204 countries affected, nearly 700,000 confirmed cases and over 33,000 victims around the world.
Sports, like many other activities, have come to a shuddering halt as social distancing practices continue to be enforced, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. There is all sorts of chatter going on regarding how the 2019-20 Premier League season will be concluded, if at all. The clubs making up the league will meet again on April 3rd and we might have more clarity then.
Meanwhile, some of the RBM crew talked a little bit about what the novel coronavirus outbreak has meant to them and how it’s affected them. Like in many other times of adversity, sharing has provided strength and a means of inspiration for humanity. We too would like to hear how this has changed your life, and your experiences with the current predicament we find ourselves in.
Chris wrote an article about this soon after the onset of the pandemic resulted in the canceling of sports around the world. If you haven’t already, we urge you to read ‘Pandemic, Anxiety, and Football’
COVID-19 spread quickly, and our sports were taken from us nearly as fast. This was the right decision. Playing behind closed doors was a terribly foolish idea. These are matters of life and death, and if sports being canceled means that we have a better chance to defeat this pandemic, then so be it. You won’t hear a cross word out of me.
The trouble is that it leaves us without our favorite distraction. I have so much time on my hands now, and it’s very, very easy to slip into a panicked, worried state that lasts days on end. Will my newborn be safe and healthy? Am I going to unknowingly contract this awful disease without symptoms, and kill one of my elderly family members? Will it be safe to travel across the country soon?
Back in January, I found out about the Everton USA Spring Break trip scheduled for this March. The trip consisted of tickets to the Merseyside Derby (scheduled for March 16th) as well as several other fun activities, such as a Thursday night darts outing, a Huddersfield Town match, a Beatles tour, and of course, a tour of Goodison. While I have been following the club since around 2010, I hadn’t yet made my Goodison Park pilgrimage and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had only been able to attend one Everton match in a summer friendly against DC United in 2011, in which Victor Anichebe, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, and the illustrious Magaye Gueye all tallied for the Blues in a 3-1 win (highlights here: D.C. United vs Everton Highlights. It was one of the best moments of my life and I knew a trip to England was in store for the future.
Back in January when my family and I were planning our trip, the coronavirus was slowly starting to make the rounds in the U.K. and the U.S., and we we didn’t think it would impact our trip at all. However, the day before our flight, my family and I decided against our best efforts that it would be smart to pull out of the trip, which was upsetting but we knew it was the right call. We were thinking of potentially sucking it up and going, as at that point there was no official match cancellations or postponements yet, but we didn’t want to risk it. Then a few days later, the league announced they would be postponing all matches, much to our relief. Trekking all the way over to England only to find out a handful of days later that the match was cancelled would’ve made for some pretty unhappy campers in our group, let alone the possibility of being stuck over there for however long with travels bans getting put into place. Although it was disappointing that the trip didn’t work out, I know my family and I will finally make our trip over once this terrible virus is resolved.
In the past few days, let alone weeks, this whole pandemic has really given me time to appreciate the small things in life and truly think of those who are affected by the virus, as well as the several families dealing with both the health and economic-related issues the virus has caused. Although I was sad about the trip getting cancelled, I realized there are certainly a lot of other scarier and sadder things going on right now and a cancelled trip isn’t something I should be upset about when people are losing their lives, jobs, homes, etc. Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s both a pleasure and an honor to write for one of the best Everton blogs around and hopefully put a smile on the face of some fans who are otherwise feeling confused and upset during these scary times. I wish you and yours all the best. Hang in there—we’ll get through this.
In my day job, I’m a pastor at a small country church here in North Carolina. In addition to moving our services online to protect our at risk population here at church, we’re also looking at folks who work by the hour or who are self employed who are facing an indefinite time here without any income. We’re scrambling to create a pantry of non-perishable goods for those who now can’t afford groceries and coming up with ways to reach out to our church members, especially those who are older and don’t really use internet access, many of whom live alone. I worry about who I might not see again, who in our community might not survive this thing. What keeps me strong and level in this whole thing is my faith. The same hope of the Gospel of Jesus that we take heart in when the crops are good and everything’s healthy is the same one that steadies us in the COVID-19 storm, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. I know this isn’t everyone’s experience in this thing and many folks have different and/or more complicated relationships with religion and faith than that but if I’m answering how I’m sorting through all of it? That’s it right there. It’s a unique challenge that I don’t feel at all prepared for, and all I can do is trust God to give me wisdom through it.
I’m only 21 but this is the hardest and worst thing I’ve ever lived through. Perhaps this almost sounds silly given I’m unlikely to die from COVID-19 should I get it, but to be honest I don’t worry too much about that for that exact reason - I’m unlikely to die from it.
Instead, I worry more about people like my older relatives; for example my grandad, who I’ve been going to Goodison Park with for more than 15 years, and friends who may be at greater risk or whose jobs are under threat, and so on. I worry and sympathise for people I’ve never met just from reading the horrific stories that we discover every day. If I have any worries about myself, it’s that this might mean it takes me longer to find full-time work in journalism; I graduated last summer and it has been a real slog at times to even find jobs going. Just when I felt like I was getting somewhere, this happens.
What makes this harder to process is the absence of any form of escapism from such a thoroughly depressing story. Whereas before I could forget about anything worrying or bothering me by going to watch Everton, or just going to the pub with my friends, we’re now starved of simple pleasures like those. There is precious little in the way of respite, and that’s what makes it so arduous.
I have things to keep me occupied - my freelance writing, reading, Netflix, music, etc. but as much as I love these things at times, they don’t quite scratch the same itch. If nothing else, though, selfish as this may seem, I just hope Everton’s last home game wasn’t my grandad’s last, too.
The thing at the forefront of my mind, like everyone of course, is concern for friends and family. I have to admit that even up to a few weeks ago I was not quite aware of how serious this virus was. Then I spoke to people I know in the medical profession, and then after hearing their genuine and stark concern, it finally hit home.
Even then the speed with which our liberties have been shut down is startling and I am still trying to take it all in. I suspect this is only the beginning of a long process and we will only truly appreciate the scale of what we are enduring once we have emerged from the other side. I keep reminding myself though that being asked to stay indoors is nothing compared to what those working on the frontline to stop the spread of this disease. Missing a few nights out is a small price to pay.
The outbreak also highlights how irrelevant football is in the grand scheme of things. All talk of promotion, relegation, transfers and finishing seasons feels utterly trivial compared to what coronavirus victims, their families and the doctors and nurses who care for them are going through.
But it also reminds us why sport plays such an important role in our lives. It is the great distraction from everything else that is going on around us, the chance to transplant your emotions from the grind of everyday life to the fate of 11 men in blue for 90 minutes on a Saturday (and let’s face it, every other day of the week). If anything, this is the time when we need sport the most, even though it is impossible for it to return at present.
It isn’t just the players on the pitch either. What makes sport so special is the shared moment of the fans. The day we all return to Goodison is going to be extra special not just because of the action on the pitch but 40,000 Evertonians being together again after so much time forced apart. That is why playing behind closed doors is not a feasible solution as it takes away so much of what makes the game so special in the first place.
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. So when life does return back to normal, with sport running alongside it once more, it will come with a new-found appreciation how it enriches our lives, even when Everton lose.
The phrase ‘what a time to be alive’ is used often, and in a number of different contexts, mostly of the positive nature. The coronavirus pandemic we are facing currently has the potential of becoming one of those once-in-a-century events that we study in history classes, and we can only hope and pray that it does not, primarily because of the loss of life that will entail. Already we have lost family and friends, and just about everyone knows someone or of someone who has been hit hard directly or indirectly by this tragedy.
As part of a COVID-19 crisis response team alongside my regular workload, I find myself easily working 60+ hour workweeks now, so you will pardon me when I say I do quite envy the folks on social media complaining that they are bored and idle at home. I work for a beverage company that makes a wide variety of drinks (water, juices, carbonated and non-carbonated drinks, and a variety of hot and cold products) and has been designated an essential supplier by the Government which has meant that not only are we attempting to continue normal production with additional safety procedures, but actually attempting to bump up output by up to 30% to meet the surging demand from consumers.
Yet my mind keeps coming back to this era humanity is going through. For many of us, this is going to be the most significant event of our lives. If you have sought some sort of turning point, there will not be too many bigger than this.
Please continue to stay safe and maintain the recommended practices that keep you healthy, but aside from that I urge you to use this period to change your life and those of the people around you for the better where you can. Just a small gesture of kindness in a time of grief can bring someone immeasurable comfort. At a time when people are finding themselves out of a job, out of food, out of a home, and worst of all, having lost their health, any way we can help the fortunes of our fellow humans, we really should.
To our faithful readers, thank you for sticking with us throughout. We would like to hear from you about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your lives, and anything else that you would like to share here with your Blue Family.