There’s nothing like the sights and sounds that come with live sports.
Raucous crowds filled with diehard fans.
Unlimited energy in the stadium.
Top athletes in each sport demonstrating excellence and mastery of their craft with ankle-breaking, jaw-dropping and roof-rattling maneuvers and gestures.
But due to COVID-19, the postponement and cancellation of live performances of athletic contests have forced sports fans around the world to find alternatives.
Student-athletes at Castleton University are certainly feeling the effects of not being able to watch or participate in live sports for the time being.
Lucas Morse, a junior member of both the wrestling and football programs, has been searching for ways to pass the time, as well as prepare for his fall and winter seasons.
“Personally, I’ve been playing a lot of sports video games, but I’ve been putting in a lot of hours working out,” Morse said. “Working out is something that has not only helped me physically, but it helps mentally as well. It really cleans the mind and keeps me happy.”
Morse, a business administration major with a minor in marketing, has also been reminiscing about past football games by watching clips and highlights of elite NFL ball carriers, like Emmit Smith, Barry Sanders and Saquon Barkley. He said watching these greats is a form of learning new techniques and moves to apply to his own game.
“You can always improve and get better while doing new exercises,” he said. “Running back videos really cheer me up, or even NCAA wrestling videos.”
The professional athletes unable to compete are also finding ways to stay active and positive.
Many athletes and celebrities have taken advantage of their newly granted free time by spending time with fans on social media and creating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
LeBron James, Pete Alonso and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are just a few notable names who have interacted with their followers in a Q&A format on Instagram Live. The larger-than-life personalities discuss all things sports, life and culture trying to forget the sad reality of living in a world without sports for a brief period of time.
Fanatics, a sports memorabilia company, has recently collaborated with pro-athletes and celebrities to provide auctions and sweepstakes for paying fans to enter in and win prizes ranging from a meet-and-greet and game-day experience with Tom Brady in Tampa, Florida to becoming a producer on one of Quavo’s newest songs. The effort is known as the “All-In-Challenge,” aiming to raise $100 million for families struggling and essential frontline workers during COVID-19.
Dustin Rock, a junior captain on the football team from Milton, Vermont, admitted it’s been difficult accepting the fact he will not be able to participate in both spring-ball and the annual “Blackout” competition with the rest of his teammates. Rock says that his teammates are “a huge part” of who he has developed into as an individual and leader on campus.
“I’ve met great people in the program. Role models, friends and some, I consider brothers. It’s hard to take (away) the interactions we have in the weight room, in meetings and in spring practices,” Rock said. “”It’s really tough on me. I sit in bed and just wonder what some of the guys or coaches are up to. Those guys are family and not seeing them for so long is tough.”
Rock, a strong-willed, physical beast of a defensive tackle who earned First-Team All-Conference honors this past season, displayed a sensitive side during these emotionally and mentally trying times.
“People pick on me for it, but I try to say ‘I love you’ to all the guys,” Rock said. “My girlfriend finds it weird, but I told her, ‘you never know when saying that will really matter in someone’s life.’ You never know when you’ll be able to tell them that face-to-face again.”
Although she’s not preparing for another year of soccer in the fall, senior Makenzi Bellando understands the pain and frustration senior spring sport athletes are feeling across the globe.
“I can’t imagine having my favorite thing ripped from underneath me and not be able to have some of the most memorable moments of my life happen,” Bellando said. “I have a lot of friends who play sports at different schools and at Castleton who have been affected by this pandemic, and it’s saddening for me to watch. Not being able to watch sports on television has been hard as well. It seems like there is nothing going on in the world except this madness that is seriously taking over everyone’s lives.”
When Bellando isn’t cheering on Jayson Tatum and the Celtics in replays, she can be found on the frontlines as an essential worker at a Toyota dealership in Carver, Massachusetts. Bellando loves coming home to an even stronger, cohesively bonded family.
“I have realized that I always have to find something different to watch at night with my family other than the Bruins or Celtics games,” she said. “I find that my family has been spending more time together and bonding while playing board and card games, and also just remembering stories from the