The Day The World Stood Still


He sat on the couch watching TV. I was in the kitchen making breakfast. The scent of sweet plantains, steamed vegetables, and toasted bread hung in the air. There was something else in the air too…an anticipation of what else would happen.

We’d just watched the news announcing the discovery of a new strain of the Coronavirus, later known as COVID-19. The virus caused by SARS-COV-2 was spreading in Asia, Europe, and cases were being discovered in America.

Those first days of the news were scary and with each new daily update remains so. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the infected rate has reached 451,355+ and the death toll is 20,499+ and increasing. With 186 countries reporting infections the world is topsy-turvy.

If the news of the virus wasn’t enough to interrupt lives, the announcement by the NBA to postpone the 2019–2020 season did. The news sent shockwaves and started a chain reaction and domino effect across the entire sports world.

Soon after the NBA’s announcement, Baseball, NHL, Golf, Soccer, and Volleyball events and seasons were postponed or cancelled. Colleges followed and then high schools began closing schools and cancelling sports programs across the US.

The dream of the Summer Olympics actually happening or starting at the scheduled date in July 2020 was questionable at best. After much criticism from several countries’ sports governing bodies, athletes, and sports analysts it was later postponed for an undetermined date.

In the days following the bombshell announcements, many people asked… if there are no sports, how do we maintain a sense of normalcy?

With no definitive answers, it seemed that the world stood still in shocked confusion.

Sports is the life blood of the nation. When you think about the world without sports, it feels wrong. It sparks friendships and rivalries. It inspires and brings our best to the surface. Sports also intersects technology, medicine, banking, education, hospitality, nutrition, fashion, and so much more.

With all the disruption to daily lives and continued queries from teams and fans, the situation remains overwhelming. You played sports or someone in your family played, and your child now plays sports in school.

With school closure in most states, the inevitable happens… sports is discontinued and most likely cancelled for months. You’re looking for answers and are worried about what you can do to help your student-athlete stay healthy through the disruption to their routine and for the remaining school year.

You’re anxious about what steps to take going forward. How do you help them through this time? Can you help them?

Here are 8 ways to help:
1. Talk to your student-athlete: Talking is one way that you can help your student athlete cope with the interruption to their schedule. Reassure them as much as possible that things will get better. Use open ended questions for queries. Remember that the mental health of your student-athlete is important and having a safe person to speak to is needed at this stressful time.

2. Ask the coaches for help and stay connected: Ask for workouts that can be done at home. Coaches usually have prepared exercises that can be used in their absence. Your athlete may want to maintain their fitness level during this time.

3. Promote continued exercise: Utilize the home workouts given by the coaches, walk outdoors with family members, play in the backyard. Allow time for rest and recovery however, as your athlete has been training for consecutive months without much rest.

4. Take preventative measures to remain healthy: Remember to wash hands after being outdoors, touching surfaces, and prior to eating food. Getting enough sleep and eating nutritious foods are also important.

5. Read books that take their mind off the chaos: Get out those story books that were favorites as kids, read anything that gives their minds a break from the current reality, and allows them to enjoy the downtime.

6. Use the downtime to remember the why: Why do they play sports? Why do you encourage their participation? Why are they disappointed with the postponement or cancellation of their season? What’s the best/worst parts of the shutdown? Use the time to rekindle the love of sports.

7. Reconnect as a family: During normal times everyone has their own schedule. You’re running from volleyball, to football, or to karate. Use this time to refocus on each other and discover what may be happening that you were not aware of during the busy season.

8. Make up new activities such as games that each family member can participate in: Get those creative juices flowing and have fun in the absurdity of the creative moments you’ll have together.

A whole new world:

In an effort to maintain health, remember that practicing social distancing (the public health practice that limits contact between sick people and otherwise healthy individuals to prevent disease transmission) IS the new norm.

During the uncertainty of this time, we have to adjust our lenses and adapt new points of views and behaviors. Think of the world that your student-athlete has been accustomed to… free movement, classes, weekly competition, and hanging out with friends. Compare it to the jarring changes being experienced now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This guarded state is the new normal.

In addition to the tips above, use this time to maintain open communication with your student-athlete, remind him or her that playing sports everyday, their interpersonal interactions with friends, and contact with the external community will return in the future.

We have many technological tools that can be used to promote connections and close the gaps left in our social lives as we try to prevent more cases of the coronavirus ( COVID-19)pandemic. Remind them that their friends and teammates are a text message, video chat or phone call away.

Again, listen to their concerns by fostering open communication and refer to professionals if you’re concerned. Or if something is out of the scope of your knowledge.

Also, adopt positive mindset changes with activities such as meditation or journaling that promotes health and wellness. And are great examples for your student-athlete to follow. As a former All-American and collegiate athlete, I know that the loss of a full season or postseason play is difficult to comprehend, but emphasize to your student-athlete that new memories will be made from the turbulence.

Healing comes when we practice gratitude and make space for recovery.


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© 2020 by Sasha Atkins.

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