LAFAKIS: Navigating COVID-19 and no sports

What do you do when sports shut down?

It’s a question that millions of people around the world are trying to answer. I’m coming to grips with this new reality, the “new normal.”

Over the past few weeks, I have searched for moments of light within this pandemic. Sports unite us, and a few initiatives brought some much-needed positivity to the global sports scene.

I was encouraged by Mark Cuban’s decision to create a program to help the Mavericks’ hourly employees. His swift plan of action showed a commendable level of awareness.

On a more local note, Karl-Anthony Towns’ $100,000 donation to the Mayo Clinic also stood out to me. Towns acted with conviction, and his efforts to assist healthcare workers should not go unnoticed.

Just before writing this column, I learned of Drew Brees’ commitment to donate $5 million to the State of Louisiana. This is an incredible gesture by Brees and his family.

If I listed all of the other people who have made a positive impact during this time, this piece would go on forever. These are unprecedented times, and I continue to search for optimistic moments.

This pandemic has reminded me that the world is fragile and everyone is human. In particular, a few stories hit quite close to home.

Hearing the news of several NBA players testing positive for COVID-19 was certainly unfortunate. When I read about the diagnosis of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, my heart sank.

After the Jazz played the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis last season, I had the chance to meet Mitchell and chat with him for a few minutes. He was quite gracious, and I know he has stayed true to his humble beginnings.

I am thinking of him and his family during this time.

The biggest hurdle is searching for normalcy during this pandemic. Indeed, these are strange moments for everyone.

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, New Orleans Pelicans forward Josh Hart and Mitchell are among several NBA players who have brought hundreds of thousands of fans into their worlds. I have enjoyed reading about their live streams of video games on Twitch, and it is pretty neat to see some of the NBA’s talented young players give people a glimpse of their activities.

Those young men are adjusting to these uncertain times. I’m trying to adjust, too.

Since I arrived in North Dakota in July, folks all around town have told me about the Class B Boys Basketball Tournament. I know that the event brings people across the state together, and I was looking forward to covering it for the first time.

Although it was disappointing to learn of the tournament’s suspension, I realize that safety is of the utmost priority. The NDHSAA’s decision showed their concern for everyone’s well-being.

I thank my sports editor, Alex Eisen, for allowing me to tell the stories of the Rugby and New Town boys basketball teams.

The suspension does not diminish all the hard work those student-athletes put in over the course of their careers. I love basketball, and it’s been a pleasure to watch North Dakota’s best hoopers go toe-to-toe on a nightly basis.

I was also looking forward to the spring sports season, but this pandemic has provided necessary perspective. Sports are important, but staying safe is crucial.

I thank all of the loyal readers who have stayed with the MDN. I appreciate all of the people who receive print copies of our newspaper, read it on our website and follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

A journalist’s job is to seek the truth and report it. I might not have all the answers, but I’m trying to figure this out.

Thanks for understanding.

This is the opinion of Jimmy Lafakis. He covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.


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