EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic

I’ve always held to a personal axiom that perspective is everything. True or not, how we view a situation becomes the truth in our minds.
There’s no escaping it and every one of us has our own perspective

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed my perspective in several ways on several different things. And for a middle-aged guy who is pretty well set in my ways, this is like the planets aligning.

I’ve managed to list my top 10 takeaways from lockdown, as they pertain to this website and what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Let’s dive in: 

1. High school athletics aren’t for our entertainment — While I always understood that the purpose of prep athletics was to build character and discipline within our young people, there was always part of me that viewed it as entertainment — primarily because it was so entertaining
There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, as long as you realize that we adults are nothing more than a sideshow.

We like to think of ourselves as an integral part of what’s happening on the field as we scream at the umpires and accuse the other side of breaking the rules. That’s half the fun and why many people view it as more entertaining than going to a movie.

But at the end of the day, high school athletics is little more than a P.E. class with a scoreboard, where the lessons we try to teach our young people are measured against those from other schools.

We adults like to elevate it to the status of the World Series, but we’re kidding ourselves when we do it.

We’re just props.

And if the UIL decides to limit the number of us who can attend high school events in the fall, that truth is going to get pounded home.

2. Everything can be politicized — One of the most disheartening things about the pandemic is in its politicization. Rather than simply getting on the same page, there are those among us who for one reason or another, have chosen to view it as a political issue.

That’s a mistake.

As of this writing, nearly 350,000 people have died worldwide from COVID-19, including almost 100,000 in the U.S. That’s with a heavy dose of social distancing, so to approach this virus sans respect is foolhardy.

That said, I believe athletics will eventually become something we can rally around, regardless of our stance on how to handle the pandemic. 
Taking baby steps might be the answer and I’m confident that some of those steps will be seen at athletic events.

Americans simply can’t go forever without a dose of sports. It’s in our blood, regardless of our political viewpoint.

3. Subtract health and you have nothing — Having spent eight days in the hospital with pneumonia just prior to the lockdown, I was able to take stock in the things that mattered to me most.

Taking part in COVID-19 social distancing has only amplified that.

Many of the things that we treasure — our spouse, our children, our career, our home, our annual vacations or our favorite toys — mean nothing if we don’t have a pulse.

And these days, I’m seeing just how delicate an active pulse really is.

Big Country Preps — the company I co-founded with Dan Youngblood — occupies nearly every waking hour that I have (under normal circumstances). And aside from my spouse and my faith, nothing topped it on the list of important things I had in my life prior to the lockdown.

I have since bumped it to No. 4, bowing to the realization that enjoying what you have in this world is contingent upon you actually being there to see it.

4. Work is a blessing As much as I love what I do, there are days when I have felt like kicking back, watching a movie, playing video games and doing anything but writing about sports.

It’s only human.

I suspect, however, that a quick look back at the pandemic of 2020 will give me an extra shot in the arm every time I lack enthusiasm.

The ability to work, to get out in the fresh air and earn a living is a true blessing. Funny how many of us fail to realize that when we’re in the process of working.

5. Coaches care more than we can ever appreciate Most of us understand that high school coaches generally have an affinity for the kids they work with. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have chosen their profession.

But the COVID-19 lockdown has given me the opportunity to observe this truth from a different angle.

The coaches are legitimately torn up about this.

Their seniors, many of whom they coached throughout high school, are seeing what might been their finest seasons closed with the stroke of a pen.

I’ve yet to hear any coach complain about the UIL’s move to cancel all spring sports in the name of public safety. But their kids are hurting, so they’re hurting along with them.

There’s nothing phony about it.

6. When push comes to shove, the UIL doesn’t show an agenda — I’ve never been a fan of the UIL and will be the first to admit it. But in retrospect, I believe it has handled the COVID-19 situation in a practical manner — putting safety first, but making it clear that getting back to normal is the goal.

They haven’t drug their feet on anything. They haven’t spewed any rhetoric. They’ve been decisive with every move while giving the public enough information about their goals to keep morale as high as can be expected.

I’ve detected no political agenda from them — only practicality, which is what most of us want. And from a business standpoint, it’s appreciated from those of us who cover UIL events.

7. Every material thing you have can be taken away — It’s almost cliched to say you can’t take anything for granted these days, because everyone is saying it. But let’s get real for a moment.

We’re seeing the worst unemployment figures since the Great Depression, courtesy of the virus. People have lost their careers, their homes, their savings. They’ve had to sell off items to survive and can’t even go to church to pray about it.

We can even lose our favorite forms of entertainment. Pro and college sports, movies, travel, dining, you name it, the plug can be pulled.

That reality has always been there. But how many of you truly realized it?

8. Worrying gets you nowhere — My partner, Dan Youngblood will find this amusing, since I’m the company worrier. But one of the most annoying things he tells me — not to worry about things you can’t control — has hit home during the pandemic.

I admit, I spent the first few weeks in abject fear.

Gradually this gave way to nervous acceptance and finally, to numbed silence.

This experience won’t stop me from worrying. That’s not possible. But I’ll be better equipped to pick my battles.

9. Home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be Despite the fact that I spend a considerable amount of time on the road when working, I’ve always been a homebody.

I enjoy getting home after working hard, telling the wife about the game I just saw and maybe watching a movie with her.

But I’ll tell you what: Two months of being cooped up in the casa have got me ready to hike the Sahara.

I want to go to a movie theater and eat a feedbag of popcorn. I want to go to a baseball game and eat a hot dog the size of a Louisville Slugger.
All this from the guy who just told you that without our health, you have nothing?

That’s the dichotomy this lockdown puts you in.

10. I’m not very good at being thankful I’ve been very blessed and yet there’s always some part of me that fails to recognize it. And because of that, I’ve often failed to pay the dividends those blessings have given me the ability to yield.

Call them post-viral resolutions if you will, but I’m hopeful that in the future, I’ll be better at giving thanks where it belongs, compassion to those who need it and hope to those who are struggling to find it.

If I can’t do that after two months of keeping a business afloat in a pandemic, what good am I? 

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