I’ve been a sports fan for as long as I can remember, and it’s something I’ve always made a huge part of my identity. Whether it’s wearing my jerseys everywhere as an attempt to meet new people or talking about sports with anyone who will listen, it’s always been my sure-fire way of making connections.
Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic making everyone more isolated, being a sports fan has definitely helped me feel less alone.
Anyone who knows me can probably attest I’m one of the most social and extroverted people out there. Therefore, this pandemic has taken quite the toll on me since I can’t go out and do as much or see as many people. However, when I do, talking about sports has been one of the things that help me feel a bit more normal.
A few of my best friends live a short walk from my apartment, so naturally I spend every weekend pestering them from a COVID-safe distance.
Quite a few of the times I’m there involve some bantering about hockey — which isn’t surprising considering our friend group includes one Blues fan, one Blackhawks fan (me) and two Red Wings fans — that goes on until someone else is begging us to shut up and watch TV quietly.
Even though I don’t see them as much as I normally would if there wasn’t a pandemic, it’s those little moments in between that make me feel like life is somewhat at peace. We can’t go out, we can’t do most normal things even indoors. But man, we can definitely still talk trash about each others’ favorite teams just as much as we did pre-pandemic.
A few weeks ago, I had one of the worst weeks of my semester and showed up at my friends’ house tired and upset with everything in my life. That long Friday night was filled with many great moments, but one of my favorites was talking about soccer until the early hours with one of my best friends.
It all made life feel so normal for a little while, as if there wasn’t political, social or personal turmoil bearing down outside their front door.
My obnoxious love of sports hasn’t just helped me feel close to my friends right now, either, but also helped me stay in touch with my family more than 900 miles away.
My mom raised me to be a die-hard sports fan, so I can say with complete certainty that she’s the reason I am the way I am today. Even though we moved to Dallas in 2010, we both still maintain our healthy obsession with Chicago teams.
Since I was sent home from study abroad in Rome in March, I spent quarantine and summer with relatives in South Carolina and then returned to Chicago. Therefore, I haven’t seen my Dallas house in over ten months, and I’ve also only seen my mom probably two days since January.
Our phone calls normally revolve around how we’re getting through life in the pandemic and global craziness, but things start to feel a bit more normal and connected when we’re ranting about the latest sports news again.
A few weeks ago, when all the rumors broke about Lionel Messi’s possible leave from Barcelona, the first person I called was my mom. We discussed and analyzed the details for a good 20 minutes before I had to go back to the world of online Zoom class. Even though that wasn’t the most enjoyable conversation topic, it’s small moments like that that have made all the stressful things in my life fade away for a little while.
For me, this pandemic has been one long stretch of trying to find creative ways to feed my extroverted need of staying connected. I don’t know how long the COVID era will go on, but I do know one thing — my years of sports obsession have come in handy in an unexpected, yet much appreciated, way.