Commentary: Sports talk can still be a healthy diversion amidst Coronavirus epidemic

Safe to say, this is an unprecedented situation for all of us: For the most part, the sports world temporarily put on hold for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean sports in various ways can’t still be that “escape” many of us rely on even in the toughest times.

Tonight, we’re not debating an NCAA Tournament bracket like we expected to. Or which Number 12 seed will pull an upset over a Number 5. And let me be clear: the discussions on social media about NFL Free Agency and the new collective bargaining agreement, or any other sports topics for that matter, may come off as trivial in light of what’s taking place in our world.

I, by no means, am tone deaf to the priorities we all have right now in terms of social distancing, keeping ourselves and our families healthy and our communities safe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to have lighthearted discussion about the sports world, if only as a temporary escape from the real world.

That’s why I’m personally less quick to judge when I see sports-related posts on social media in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. I hope this forum will still be one where lively discussion can continue to take place – whether it’s about the Seahawks and salary cap space or debating Top 10 Lists when it comes to the best local sports moments or athletes or sports movies or logos.

Because that debate – hopefully friendly and non-confrontational – can be one more way we all pass the time. Because for some of us, and I say this seriously with a lot of fear-mongering out there, I believe these discussions about sports can legitimately help one’s mental well being. Not for everyone - but for some.

For others like me, it’s a matter of simply going outside and kicking the ball around with our children or incorporating other sports or activities safely given the current health guidelines. Or taking advantage of some of the free services I’ve seen that will be live streaming everything from live dance classes to the Seattle Symphony offering free broadcasts until their orchestra returns to the stage.

My plan here is to keep this show upbeat and uplifting and informative in terms of any ongoing relevant sports news, because if we’re able to offer that outlet to at least one viewer who needs it, I believe it’s worth it.

We also plan to hopefully highlight the good that’s being done by athletes in the world, like Zion Williamson, Kevin Love and other NBA players who are donating large sums of money to help support arena workers who are left without jobs during the league’s temporary hiatus. Last night, Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer hosted a charity wiffleball game to raise money for Major League Baseball staff members who are out of work during this suspension. Social distancing wasn’t great, but the intent certainly was.

As we’ll discuss in a minute, NFL Free Agency has not been delayed and will begin tomorrow. Since it doesn’t include large crowds and hopefully deals can be done without in-person visits, it seems safe and also creates relevant storylines that fans across the country can get excited about and debate with others on social media and over the phone.

The point is: We won’t have current competitive sports to discuss for at least the next month or so – maybe even longer. But sports – past and present - provide a broad spectrum for all of us in myriad ways to find a temporary, and sometimes necessary and healthy, departure.

That’s not being dismissive of this ongoing crisis. It’s simply helping find a way to cope.