By David Ficarri
-Diversions with Dave-
“Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the...wait, what? Where is everybody?”
As the sports world tries to hit the reset button this year, there are still more questions than answers. Of course, the main priority is the safety and security of all involved, especially the athletes. That being said, is it even feasible to have people in the stands?
One of the great allures of any sporting event is the fan participation and the energy and excitement they bring to the games. If you close your eyes, you can probably visualize some of the magnificent moments that we in Pittsburgh have got to experience over the years.
From the deafening echo of Pirates fans chanting “Cueto” to the frenzy of Steelers fans waving their Terrible Towels during the playing of “Renegade” to the childlike enjoyment when Sid The Kid lights the lamp versus the hated Flyers, there is something quite magical when you’re experiencing the game in person.
What happens, though, if this is the year the crowd goes silent? Well, outside of that Cueto game and fireworks nights, us Pirates fans haven’t had much to really cheer about lately. In fact, we were pretty much social distancing long before COVID-19 rolled into town.
All joking aside, our passion for our sports teams extends far beyond just the playing venues. Everything from bars to grocery stores to merchandise vendors all have a vested interest in our local teams.
The name on the back of the jerseys represents the individual players but the name across the front is a direct symbol of civic pride and a connection to the hometown.
If you watch sports, you understand that dynamic very well and if you’ve ever played sports, there’s little in the outside world that compares to that rush of playing in front of thousands of fans who are cheering on your every move.
What happens though if that crowd suddenly goes silent. Well, there are two lessons that are always constant in the sports world.
They are the ability to make adjustments to any circumstance and to overcome adversity.
If you ask most athletes, what motivates them is the thrill of competition and pouring their heart into the games they’ve played since their youth.
They’re going to have to harken back to the days when they were young and playing in front of just their families or no one at all. However, the professionals are getting paid for their efforts. There is a much larger dilemma facing athletes from the collegiate level all the way down to youth sports.
As I’m writing this, every sports organization is having internal discussions on their game plans for the remainder of the year. To me, the sports world has always been a perfect microcosm of the outside world.
Adaptations, adjustments and adversity are instrumental in any team, or organization, success. That being said, there is a distinct possibility that many teams will not have a season this fall and if they do, the crowds may be limited. If they do play, the stadiums might be empty but their hearts won’t be.
Which brings us to the crowds. Will you be comfortable going to any sporting events? If so, have you thought about the environment and the precautions you made need to take to make you feel comfortable? There are still plenty of lingering questions with very few concrete answers.
Part of the beauty of any sporting event is the unpredictability of the outcome which adds to the excitement. However, the unpredictability we’re all facing goes far beyond the numbers on the scoreboard. How much that affects us is as unique as our passion for our teams and players.
Let’s cross our fingers that the games will go on and we’ll all get to enjoy some semblance of normalcy in this difficult year. As for the writers of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, they didn’t even attend a Major League Baseball game until 32 and 20 years, respectively, after they had written the famous song. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait that long to see another game...or for the Pirates to win another World Series.