The B-Side: The Corona Virus Takeover

The good ol' days of indoor track and field featured Ebony McClendon of Brooks Prep running all-time girls 60m record at the 2014 Illinois Top Times

BSide "020" was scheduled to debut today as it was on Twitter "BSide Returns." But as Biggie 'Notorious BIG' penned years ago: 'THINGS DONE CHANGED'. Yesterday as I wrote the original draft I was more concerned about the Coronavirus aka COVID-19.

This past weekend while I was with my youth club the Decatur Dominators at the AAU 14U in Ypsilanti, Michigan, my wife sent me a text saying the outbreak hit Omaha, Nebraska, where most of my friends live. I immediately sent texts out to all of them to be careful and take precautions. I also knew that Harvard U had shut down so it was getting close on both sides of the country- and the mayhem getting close to us here too. That affected the Martin Twins (Tina & Katrina) from Decatur Eisenhower HS that cleaned up at state several years ago.

I get off work to go and coach my son "Champ" who is home for spring break, and is supposed to go back to Cornell College (Iowa) on Sunday. He hands me his phone and said, "Dad read this!" I look at it and the news is dark. His school has been closed for the time being and emails will be sent out as to when it will be opening. I later found out the University that hosted watching him run his conference meet just two weeks ago had already shut down all spring sports for the year.

We still worked out in the "Dungeon" (my garage turned gym). My wife arrives home from work and I uttered, 'show your momma what you showed me.' She looks at it, looks at me, I look at her and Champ is looking at both of us.

The next day, Wednesday, was fueled by a nonstop fest of asking of "did the email come through' or 'what did your team track chat say?' Champ works out and finishes early evening. We walk upstairs and reality hits. The campus is on lockdown, the track season is a wrap unless something happens quickly. I sat on the bed first thinking 'Ok, what about my money?' Then I thought does he get this season back? I knew once his conference rival shut it down he was next because a viral case had been found ten minutes from his school and the Univ of Iowa had shut down while he was working out. I'm sitting there on the bed thinking what about his clothes? TV? Champ's study laptop was still at his school! The classes would now have to be done online, if possible, and he was informed to send an email to let them know if he was coming to get his things.

What if Champ gets too comfortable at home and doesn't even want to go back to college? Hey, it happens. One thing is certain, BSide is going to be in the next 'Fast & Furious Friday.' We're getting in and get out quick!" No packing, grab it and throw it in the car"... "Let's Go!" It wasn't long after that was dropped on us the NBA was on lockdown as I'm watching, as well as the colleges University of Illinois, Illinois St,  and Notre Dame. The youth national meets in NY and Baltimore had been canceled, Boys & Girls Champs in Jamaica (which I watch every year). And while I was sleep New Balance Nationals Indoor was also erased.

I was excited about the IL contingent that was headed to NY. I had written (what you will never see) how Katelynne Hart (Sr., Glenbard West) may win two events. I was anxious to watch senior Willie Johnson (Sr., E. St. Louis Sr.) shock the world in the Championship Division, along with their 4x4 in their infamous "Cheetos Orange" bodysuits (#7 in the U.S) facing seven of the top ten squads. But I knew last night a couple of minutes after the NBA shut down, that ESTL was in the same boat. I wanted to see Raelyn Roberson (Sr., Glenbrook South) matchup vs Morgan Smalls (NC). And finally Riley Ammenhauser (Jr., Neuqua Valley) vs Morgan Smalls(NC)- arguably the greatest all-around jumper in high school history in the TJ event. And now we all lose to the Coronavirus.

We are in unchartered waters and have been since the new year kicked in. My friends will tell you New Year's Eve, I said 2020 is gonna be a problem, I can feel it and it has been. This feels like a slow starting scene from a weather disaster movie on YouTube or a scene from Walking Dead. Everybody is trying to figure things out, what to do to be safe. Then BAM here comes the storm and zombies! We just hit March and it seems that everything is "Unprecedented." My team had more drama, injuries, flu, death, hospital visits/stays than any of the 21 yrs I've had the team. The way Kobe passed with his daughter in my life has never happened. The impact shook the whole world completely up.

And now Coronavirus has taken over. Colleges are shut down, classes online, professional sports shut down near the playoffs, high school state championships in basketball gone from no fans to nothing at all. And this week it affects my house on all levels. A parent works almost twenty years to help put their kid in a position to be successful in college, and now they're coming back home. I'm glad he was home for Spring Break because if he was still there I'd be a wreck. If your kid plays sports it's even more nerve-wracking because he would've been traveling to meets. But now a lot of households are looking like an episode of 'The Waltons' as everyone is under one roof again. So what's next for high schools and all spring sports?  How long until it affects whether we can go to work? I've gotten plenty of emails on protocol the last two days. The other sports will be affected I can see where boxing matches could get canceled. You might not even feel safe at church by next week.

How does this affect track and field? Well think about it, superstar seniors who maybe had never been to NBNI will never get to go. The state greats some mentioned previously will not have the opportunity. If colleges are done, how long before high schools get toppled? For those who said off-season or indoor track and field doesn't matter, now what are your opinions? At this point, you are basically banking on memories or if a senior, a prayer that outdoor season is at least salvaged. And long term what happens if everything is scraped? It could be a problem. I'm sure it's crossed Atlanta Hawks Vince Carter's mind. This was his last rodeo and he may have played his last game last night. Vince's career may be over. I'm sure that' not how he saw himself going out.

I feel bad for the kids nationwide who planned on attending NBNI or other high profiled competitions. The amount of work that's put in to go there, money saved, planning is on another level. It just feels like the Coronavirus had other plans. Everybody be safe, be smart and hopefully I'll see you at the meets soon.