By Donna Griffin
Across the country, everyone’s trying to go back to school, but there’s literally no going back. I’m screen deep into my third week of remote learning as an IPS teacher.
“When are we going to go back to the normal schedule? One of my senior students asked during our Microsoft Teams class session during the first week of school. I had to break it to her that high school as she knew before March 12, 2020 was no longer. Now our goal is to move forward, make the most of this opportunity, and keep learning, growing, and helping each other.
And for me, one of the hardest parts of life since Covid-19 has been the loss of attending live sports events at every level.
Just last week I got to see my grandson, Noah play soccer. With masks and social distancing, it was different, but more than anything “watching the game” brought me back to a sense of normal.
My earliest memories are of watching a game – Pacers ABA basketball, Reds and Cubs baseball, and of course, Wide World of Sports. I remember sitting on the couch with my dad keeping up with all the stats of the NFL. I so wish I still had the notebook I compiled for my all-time favorite team, the Miami Dolphins and their perfect season in 1972-73.
My love of sports was the entry point into writing and reporting – Don Hein and Jerry Harkness, were my heroes. Phyllis George, who just recently passed away, was the first woman I saw report on sports – and in a way I am still jealous of her. My dream job still remains covering the “big games.” My journalism students all know this. I’ve never been shy about being a sports fan, and I’ve spent many a Friday night under the lights at high school football stadiums and basketball courts in El Paso and Indianapolis.
My Bucket List is full of sports wishes.
- My husband and I went to the NFL Football Hall of Fame for our first anniversary – check!
- The whole family went to Olympics Atlanta 1996 and watched women’s gymnastics, men’s basketball, baseball, track, water polo and table tennis – check!
- One of my earliest sports wishes from my high school days took 40 years and was worth every moment. As a sports reporter for Arsenal Tech from 1974-77, all I wanted was to see my Titans win a boys basketball sectional. In 2014, on the 39th anniversary of our first date (we met at Tech), my husband and I and our grandson, Noah were at Banker’s Life when Tech won its first IHSAA Boys Basketball Championship. I was on the floor covering the game with my students and fighting my way to take a team picture that is now proudly displayed in the Tech gym.
- With my Cannon Multimedia students I arranged a tour of ESPN studios during Super Bowl XLVI, and we also filmed special reports from the Super Bowl Village in Downtown Indy – a Bucket List item almost checked off. I still hope to actually attend a Super Bowl, preferably one the Colts (or Dolphins) win.
- My crew of Cannon Multimedia sports reporters provided me with such wonderful memories of their initiative, drive, high
energy, and enthusiasm for sports, including a Titan Gameday pregame show before the Tech Centennial Homecoming in 2012, including interviews with players, coaches, pro broadcasters and alumni – it was totally their show.
What we all love about sports is the essence of what we want life to be – fair – with people working toward a common goal and playing by the rules. It’s why I believe the NBA was able to get everyone to live in a “bubble,” play without fans and, in some cases family members, and work to have an exciting championship tournament barely marred by the Coronavirus.
It’s also why athletes were among the first responders in the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and have put their careers on the line throughout the history of this country to stand up for civil rights, kneel in support, raise fists in solidarity, boycott, and fight legal battles when necessary.
Always Another Chance
We all start as kids playing games – it’s how we learn to take the hard knocks of life, bounce back, start over, and try again. There’s always another game, another chance to win, another lesson to learn from both victory and defeat.
In “Winning Time,” Reggie Miller’s 30-for-30 documentary about his rivalry with the Knicks, Spike Lee says, “It’s on the playground where legends are made.” Those lessons learned as kids playing sports resonate and reverberate in twists of fate and moments of glory that become part of our collective memories as fans – 8 points in 8.9 seconds, crossing the yard of bricks for the fourth Indy 500 win, blazing a trail in baseball, capturing an Olympic gold medal.
Most of all with practice, skill, desire, and often just a bit of luck, those playground dreams are realized and legends are made – “and the crowd goes wild!”