Nearly a month has passed since the sports world shut down.
On Wednesday, March 11, the National Basketball Association suspended its season. The NCAA called off its spring sports the following day while Georgia Southern announced that it was calling off the annual Schenkel Invitational golf tournament. By the end of the weekend, every relevant collegiate and professional sport in America had been shuttered.
It’s been a rough few weeks and there are many more gameless nights to come, but Monday offered the tiniest promise of a sports landscape envisioning a day when things are (sort of) back to normal.
Monday morning began on a particularly low note for yours truly as my phone’s calendar dinged at the stroke of midnight. I’m a terrible schedule planner and organizer that usually tries to keep everything squared away in my head, but I had programmed one event into my phone as it would require a week’s worth of travel while shuffling my two children from one caretaker to the next.
Monday was supposed to be the beginning of Masters week.
As the sun began to shine on a crystal clear day, I couldn’t help but think about what I would have been doing in Augusta. There would have been the mandatory walking of the course, refamiliarizing myself with each hole. There would be a trip to the pro shop and plenty of planning on how to hide the next month’s Visa bill from my wife. And - even by mid-morning - there would have been at least one barbecue sandwich on my personal scoreboard.
Thinking about the week that wasn’t going to be was getting me a bit down. But then, at 11:03 a.m., there was another electronic ding - this time alerting me to an email.
Fresh to the inbox was a message from Augusta National Golf Club. The last message from them had brought the news of the postponement of the Masters, but this one was full of hope. If all goes well, the 2020 Masters is scheduled to be played Nov. 12-15.
To be sure, it’s nothing set in stone. Even as most of the golf world came out on Monday with committed dates for major events, all of it stands on the very precarious ledge of the COVID-19 crisis and how the nation is able to recover throughout the summer.
Ever since the initial cancelation of leagues and events, there have been myriad dates for resumption of activities speculated. And for every possibility offered, there has been a quick backtracking as the news of the public health crisis has only grown.
Even now, there is little in the way of certainty.
Major League Baseball has every contingency in place from a 100-game season to none at all. Basketball and hockey have loose plans for delayed playoffs, but may well never complete their respective seasons. And both professional and collegiate football continue to barrel on towards late-summer start dates while rumors pile up about how both are working on contingencies.
But for a sports addict like myself, that one email and planned event from Augusta — a singular star shooting across what has become a very dark sky — was enough to lift my spirits.
For the first time since all of this started, a firm date has been placed on a rescheduled event. Sure, it's subject to change, but that's still much better than the recent uncertainty.
Now, to end my thoughts, I must also make another point clear.
The rescheduling of the Masters or any other sporting event is welcome to sports fans like me, but also trivial.
I don't think there is any issue with marking the passage of time in regards to major sporting events, but that is assuming that all else is right in the world.
And, quite frankly, all is not right and won't be for a while.
If this November Masters happens and is the return to a normal schedule, it will be great for sports, but fantastic for humanity.
Until then, it's best for sports fans to suck it up and take the lack of normal summer events in stride.
Let's stay safe, stay separate and start to stem the tide.
Do that, and we can look forward to a tradition that — played in November — will definitely be unlike any other.