This week I have done a ton of reflecting on what has taken place over the last year. I have spent time writing about our personal life in several of my previous posts, along with the dramatic changes the pandemic has forced upon us. I remember the week of 2020 very well because it was about to be my older son’s 9th birthday and I had the company tickets for the Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena against the Penguins. I have had them sitting in the envelope delivered from the Marketing team; I just turned around to verify they’re still there. Oh, which reminds me, I’m in the office now. With the kids back at school full time, I’ve spent a lot less time doing laundry this week…

I can remember thinking to myself, how on earth can GBQ cancel Green Bagels? That just doesn’t happen. Well, it did, and that was just the beginning; an abbreviated Arnold festival, conference basketball tournaments gone, hockey season got the axe followed by March Madness. Once our travel baseball season was put on ice, it was then that I knew this was serious.

Except, now that we’re in year #2, I’m guessing (much like every September where I can’t help but watch endless hours of 9/11 coverage) I’m always going to pause and reflect on the week that flipped everyone’s lives upside down. I also received an email this week from TeamSnap, a youth sports scheduling app I’m sure many of you have become familiar with. The timing could not have been any better…

One year with COVID-19: 5 Sports-Themed Silver Linings

To say it’s been a challenging year is an understatement. The closed sporting venues, the unexpectedly long offseason, and overall uncertainty about the future of amateur team sports have weighed on all of us, kids and adults alike. There’s still a lot of uncertainty. We’re figuring out how masks are impacting youth sports and how to stay socially distanced while spectating. Hopefully, we’ll be turning a corner in 2021 as more vaccines come available and we find new ways to keep ourselves and our families safe.

After one year of dealing with COVID-19, we’ve all learned a few things — beyond how to wash our hands for 20 seconds and how to log into multiple Zoom meetings per day. As we begin playing sports again, we can apply some of these lessons both on and off the field.

1. We’ve learned that things don’t always go as planned.

In sports and life, things don’t always go how we plan. We might have practiced all the moves and studied all of the strategies only to be surprised with a maneuver that throws us a curveball. The key is to keep trying and never give up.

2. We’ve learned how to pivot.

We’ve heard this word a whole lot throughout the past year. But knowing how to pivot is a valuable skill. Consider other words for pivot: rotate, swivel, revolve, spin. Think about how we might move in these ways while playing sports or doing activities. When things take a turn, we can turn to meet them.

3. We’ve learned to solve problems.

The past year has propelled us to be creative in how we approach our hobbies, our jobs, and our relationships. Maybe we’ve done virtual workouts with our team to stay active during the shut-down, or maybe we’ve turned our backyards into temporary soccer fields or volleyball courts. By working our brains as much as our bodies, we can solve tough problems.

4. We’ve learned the value of communication.

Being on a team requires strong communication. Sure, right now we’re doing a lot of communicating over screens and from behind face masks. Yet we’re still able to express ourselves and meaningfully connect. Whenever we’re back at school, work or sports, we can take these heightened communication skills with us.

5. We’ve learned that we’re all in this together.

It’s easy to take sides in sports, and there’s no harm in a little friendly competition. Still, this year has given us the ability to see one another with a bit more empathy and kindness. We’re all hoping for an end to the virus, a return to a bit of our old ways of being. This experience has been challenging, but it’s also been a reminder that we’re all human, and we’re all in this together.

Several clichés and even more things we probably take for granted by now, but each of these applies to all parts of our lives, not just sports.

I’ve also learned that kids are resilient. My kids are animals and at this time last year, the thought of them not being in school had me wondering how many walls I was going to patch or how many wrestling matches would turn into ER visits and casts or splints. Yes, they’re still animals a year later and the only spackling I did in 2020 was the result of the nine small home improvement projects I attempted to do on my own when having someone in your house wasn’t always an option. But we’ve been creative (we turned one half of the laundry room into an office), and we’ve changed the way we communicate (albeit not always quietly), and I’d even say we’ve become problem solvers (we eventually figured out how to have four simultaneous Zoom meetings going in the house on Friday mornings…with the help of a Wi-Fi booster planted in the kitchen).

We’re also thankful, even inching towards hopeful. Some families were affected differently than others, but perhaps each of us can say we’ve become a little stronger.

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