I remember when we used to jump on social media to argue about bad calls on the court, or debate catch or no catch on the football field. We’d argue them in the gym the next day.
That was so last month.
While my PR and journalist peers try to make sense over a now suspended NBA season and fluid situations throughout the sports world, my personal sense of weird began Tuesday.
I was thick into a pitch for another sports story as concern started to flood my social media timelines. First, professional sports leagues announced that media wouldn’t be allowed in locker rooms for the foreseeable future. That was followed by calls for conference basketball tournaments to be played with no fans in an effort to stem the exchange of potentially harmful germs that cause COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
I continued my pitch for a name, image and likeness (NIL) story because the states of Nebraska and Florida made related news, Tuesday. Business as usual, right? As hours passed I realized those stories were being pushed to the side. Everyone — and I mean everyone with whom I spoke — sounded puzzled that I was talking about anything except COVID-19 related issues.
Today — now yesterday according to my clock — was very different. A few conference tournaments tipped with fans in the stands, but something felt different, even in my home office. I went to work out then anxiously checked my email afterward, hoping NIL was at least on the day’s radar. (Welcome to the ups-and-downs of someone who works in publicity.)
As we now know, the day instead was abuzz with announcements of extended spring breaks in light of an official pandemic and more sports that would play without fans in an effort to create social distance. Then word that an NBA player tested positive for coronavirus, his team and others quarantined and the NBA season suspended. And as you see in reporter Bryan Fisher’s chronology, it was only a fraction of what happened during the day and night.
I surreal couple of days. I knew how that kind of bizarre felt. I was in Atlanta and left Centennial Park minutes before the bombing in 1996 and I remember the weird feeling in days that followed. I remember the horrific morning of 9/11, thinking how only a day prior we enjoyed an exciting U.S. Open men’s final before our lives changed forever.
As many of us try to chill after the news of the week so far, my hope is that those affected heal sooner than later. I’m realistic to know that a magic pill won’t appear with the sun in the morning, but like all of you, I think, I’d rather talk about student-athletes’ rights and where Tom Brady’s free agency will take him. … Ok, I’ll leave the latter to you all.
Today wasn’t about a PR pitch. Tomorrow may not either. But the basics of PR lie in communication and credible information. Seek it. Stay informed with trusted sources. We are in the midst of a pandemic. Regardless of what your favorite athlete might say about overreaction or what you hear from the nation’s capitol, it’s no joke. Wash your hands with soap after you go anywhere and touch anything; stay hydrated (with water you jokers) and please, please, amidst the stress, remember to laugh.
If you need help with the last part, I’ll give you tips about how you can laugh at yourself, if nothing else.
©Gail Sideman, gpublicity.com 2020