Despite COVID-19 cases, be thankful for sport in 2021


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly column by former sports journalist and editor Mike Bass. Bass will contribute to The Enquirer by offering advice to sports fans, athletes and young parents and sports coaches through a weekly question and answer session. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @ SportsFanCoach1.

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing.

Again.

Sports programs are changing.

Yes again.

We know this kind of stress. We cringe on what’s to come. This is not how we wanted to get out of the year.

It might help. Thinking about what went well can relieve your stress. Let me share with you some of my gratitude as a sports fan and coach for 2021:

– I am grateful that I was able to go back to watch games. That first game, a baseball game with my old college friends, seemed like a blessing to me. The sport has returned to crowded stadiums and relative normalcy this year, and I still savor it.

– I am grateful for my experience as a sports fan to end all experiences as a sports fan. My son and I attended a Reds-Cubs game at Wrigley Field and each of us caught a foul ball. At his wedding reception a few months later, I toasted my daughter-in-law for turning her into a Cubs fan. She helped make father-son baseball a reality.

A Cincinnati Bengals fan watches during the second half of the NFL football game on Sunday, December 19, 2021 at Empower Field in Denver.  The Bengals beat Denver 15-10.

– I’m grateful for every minute I spent talking to Scott Stanfield, the retired Minnesota police officer who quit his job as a high school basketball coach to escape parental harassment on time of their children’s play. He quietly returns to coaching, with a new strategy. He wanted to understand the parents better and involve them more. This way they could see from the other’s point of view.

– I am grateful that I was able to share Stanfield’s story not only in my column, but at the Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus, in my presentation on Relationships with Athletic Parents. A trainer told the group that parents are unaware of the sleep he is losing, worried that he will give his children time to play. I like the dialogues.

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor smiles as he leaves the field after the NFL football game on Sunday, December 19, 2021 at Empower Field in Denver, Cincinnati County.  The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Denver Broncos 15-10.

– Thank you to the Bengals fans who adopted me on Twitter, sharing your anxiety and happiness whenever I asked. Bengals Fan of the Year, Jim Foster was kind enough to act as a go-between and then invited me to my first real hatchback, in Chicago on my birthday. There I met a group of sympathetic and dedicated fans who are almost family. Anthony Brooks (aka Tony Da Tiger), fully made up and dressed, and his wife were chatting with tailgate buddies Hannah Walsh and Brandon Bradshaw. Tony joked that the other couple had to get married. Three months later, before Sunday’s game in Denver, Walsh and Bradshaw posted videos of Brandon kneeling on Twitter and… you can guess the rest.

“Fiancé before 30 ✅,” Walsh (@Ninsterrr) tweeted. “My last day in my 20s was spent surrounded by some of our most favorite people (who have kept this a secret for months!). I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole jungle to be able to marry my best friend @ NastyNati740. “

– Grateful that I returned to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time in about 20 years and got to meet Bengals super-couple Jess (@thewhobae) and the captain (@BengalsCaptain) before the game. They’re married, they’re social media regulars, and they’re cool. Jess is a nurse practitioner, just like my wife, and asked me to support him, and the captain was curious about what I’m doing and wondered if he could help me. Very cool. I had never been to PBS as a fan. The 41-16 loss to that other Ohio team was hard to watch, another low in your Mood Swing Football season, but whatever. Overall, I can appreciate what the return to relevance of the Bengals has brought you. First-place team at Christmas? Ho-Ho Dey!

– I am grateful to have been able to reunite with four childhood friends to play ball, the first time we have shared a sand court in half a century. We hit, lined up, threw, sore, laughed, stretched, grabbed, missed and remembered. We dedicated the meeting to our friend who died of cancer. We missed him.

– I am grateful that our group also attended a Cubs-White Sox game, even though it happened a few days after a Cubs clearance sale. My Cubs looked lifeless when a Sox fan pulled up in the aisle and blocked my view unknowingly. I asked her very politely to move out. He turned around, smiled and said, “I was protecting you from having to see this.” I laughed. He moved. Lost bears. Extra. Another beautiful day.

– I am thankful that my wife attended a Cubs game with me, which she does every two years or so. Sadly, this one was a clunker, a 9-1 loss to Kansas City and a 13th straight loss at home, a franchise record. We left early. Come to think of it, the team I have supported have lost every game I have attended this year. Oh, well, I’m still grateful.

–I’m grateful that I lived long enough to see the University of Cincinnati qualify for the college football playoffs because I never would have believed that during my journaling days in the city. I’m going to shoot for a heavily favored Alabama upset New Years Eve. How is it for the end of 2021?

–I am grateful to you UC and Xavier basketball fans for detailing your pain during an NCAA tournament without any of your teams, which just doesn’t happen. The pain of a fan made me think about this question: How much suffering is enough when you are a devoted fan?

– I’m grateful to my alma mater Illinois for giving me such a great escape amid COVID-19 restrictions with his thrilling run to a No.1 seed in basketball. A shocking loss to Loyola crushed my mind, so I hit a bucket of golf balls across the course. It was fun. I felt better. Why continue to suffer?

– I am grateful to have worked with golfers. Many will say what I have always said. They want to lower their scores for more fun. What if they have the wrong command?

– I am grateful that I got to see a new season of “Ted Lasso” after watching season 1 several times. My wife is also addicted. The series isn’t always predictable or light-hearted, but it’s comfort food for a sports fan. Or anyone, really. To believe.

– I am grateful to have been able to attend the National Sports Collector’s Card Convention. I’ve browsed exhibits, heard details of million dollar deals, and chatted with experts on how to navigate a booming industry. Also, I saw someone try to chew a piece of gum from a newly opened 1984 baseball card deck. Yum.

– I am grateful to have been able to attend the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum again. I am flattered that I still vote for Hall and I try to be transparent about my selections because I think the fans deserve it. I understand that writing to Cincinnati means that the conversation will inevitably center on one person. Rock. Edward. Pink.

– I am especially grateful to you for sharing your time, your stories, your frankness, your humor, your anger, your memories, your community, your struggles, your zest for life and your perspectives. Being a sports fan is special. Sharing ways to improve this is an honor.

Thank you.

Email Bass at [email protected] or reach out to @ SportsFanCoach1 on Twitter if you’d like to be included next week. His website is MikeBassCoaching.com.



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