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Column: With the world on pause, stop and look around

An empty Renaissance Coliseum on March 12.

Last Wednesday night, March 11, I interviewed Peoria Manual head boys basketball coach Willie Coleman after the Rams’ win to advance to Friday’s sectional title game versus Peoria Notre Dame. We talked about the expected crowd and the matchup between two Peoria high school basketball powerhouses. 

The matchup never came.

That interview, taped just over a week ago, seems like a piece of a distant past. 

Little did we know there would be no game on Friday and no IHSA boys basketball state final for the first time since 1908. We knew that the NCAA Tournament would be played without fans, but many failed to realize the inevitable cancelation was coming a day later. Last Sunday, March 8, in St. Louis, I had no idea that the MVC Championship game would be the final Bradley sporting event I would cover this academic year. I had no clue that Wednesday would be my penultimate full day on campus for the semester.

On Friday, when all of it started to sink in, I talked with the Bradley men’s basketball team. Despite the strange circumstances, they appeared to take it in stride. I’m sure they had no idea what was coming next either.

After media availability had wrapped up, I took a walk around an empty Renaissance Coliseum. It was an eerie feeling. A gym that would have otherwise been jam packed that evening would now sit empty for the foreseeable – or distant – future.

It’s amazing how fast life can change and unfold. If all were normal, Clutch Sports Media would’ve broadcasted a thrilling basketball game on Friday and I would be preparing to travel wherever the Braves’ tournament matchup took them, but I suppose it wasn’t meant to be.

There’s no right way to grapple with any of this. When I ponder it, I often find myself baffled at how fast things moved.

Anybody who knows me pretty well knows my favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. My favorite quote from the film is “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

With a busy schedule with days often completely booked, sometimes looking around once in a while is a difficult task. Now, life has thrown on the brakes.

I look forward to using this social distancing time and time off to reflect and do all that I can to improve. It may be easier said than done, but this could be a valuable time to catch up on your personal life. 

This, too, shall pass and sports will return, more glorious than ever before. I cannot wait for that day. But, until then, let’s all stop and look around.

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