Sitting in section 209 of the American Airlines Center on a warm spring evening in downtown Dallas, I watched the Mavericks take on the Denver Nuggets. I had little idea how life would change by the game’s end.
I sat with my wife and teenage son, Sarah and John Wofford. I had accidentally left my phone in the car, so I was enjoying Mavericks fan favorite Boban Marjanović play the game of his life, scoring 31 points in a 113-97 victory for Dallas on March 11, without distractions from the outside world.
“What? Did y’all see the NBA is shutting down its season?”
The woman sitting to our right was looking at her phone in disbelief as she shared the news with us. Our family’s sports world hasn’t been the same since.
COVID-19 is serious. I worry about my 73-year-old mother and 75-year-old mother-in-law being exposed, as both live alone. I worry about anybody at risk and those who show up to hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities to care for patients or those most susceptible to the virus.
That is what’s important right now – the health of Americans, not sports. When I pray daily for those affected COVID-19, I do not include a request for sports to return. However, the sports world on all levels coming to a screeching halt has not been easy for the Wofford household.
We are a sports family. Proud of it. It does not define us but it is a part of who we are. We love college football Saturdays in the fall and make sure we have our crimson shirts ready for game day. North Texas is a sports fan’s paradise and we take full advantage. Sure, times have been rough since Jerry Jones pushed Jimmy Johnson out the door 26 years ago, but hey, how ‘bout them Cowboys? We’ve stuck with them.
Growing up in Arlington, summers were about Rangers baseball, and we (my wife might claim to be a Chicago Cubs fan in honor of her dad) were ready for air-conditioned Globe Life Field. It was almost enough to help us move on from Game 6. If you know, you know.
As a club soccer player, my son has traveled throughout the state for matches and tournaments. We’ve traveled to Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arizona, California and Las Vegas. He has Dallas Texans teammates and friends from all over North Texas on his team. He misses it.
And so do we.
We miss seeing the team parents. You travel with these people, eat meals with them, drive their children to practice and games. If they cannot make a road trip to a tournament, you step in and help their son so they don’t have to worry. We plan vacations around our sports schedules, often combining the two.
You experience the thrill of victory and agony of defeat with these parents. And we’ve been missing that.
My daughter, Caroline, has a competitive fire. One of my favorite qualities in her. Just like me, her face gets red with emotion, and I miss watching her focus on the volleyball court for a big moment. Caroline has an amazing voice and is active in her school choir, which I love. Sports isn’t all she has in life, and the same can be said for John.
And our family has embraced this time together with an attitude to make the best of it. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the cold high school soccer matches (because all high school soccer night matches are cold, oddly even you were wearing shorts at lunch), early Saturday morning games an hour away and rushing home from Coppell to get to the middle school volleyball match in Keller.
We miss the parents. We miss the competition. We miss the lifestyle.
For those who dismiss sports as not that important, the journalist in me respects your opinion. However, just as you get an adrenaline rush from a concert or arts festival, respect the emotion and connection sports provides this family.
A big part of what brings us together is missing. Fortunately, we have our faith and our family.
But please tell me we’ll have our football this fall.
Follow Chase Wofford (@bcwrolltide) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.