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Wow!

I guess that’s all that can really be said regarding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and how it has impacted daily life and, truthfully, every facet of life.

Including sports.

Last week, just about every domino started to fall once the NBA announced a suspension of its season following a player testing positive for the highly-contagious illness. The National Hockey League and Major League Soccer put off their regular seasons. Major League Baseball pushed back its opening day to mid-April. March Madness – that 68-team men’s division I basketball tournament and the women’s tournament as well – and all spring NCAA sports were canceled.

Then, the Iowa High School Athletic Association decided to restrict its remaining boys’ basketball state tournament to certain family members and members of the schools’ entourage. Everyone made the best of things and the tournament went off without a hitch.

Now – with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ recommendation to call off school for four weeks – high school sports have been canceled, at least for four weeks.

What this means for cherished events such as the Drake Relays remains unclear as of this writing. But with schools closing, there was no other choice to be made.

And looking at the big picture, it was the right decision.

I know people who think this is over-reacting. Some have actually gone so far as to call this some sinister media conspiracy to oust President Trump from office with this fall’s election.

First, let’s leave politics out of this. We’re all in this together, and COVID-19 isn’t going to respect political or other social boundaries.

Second, nobody in the media wanted to cancel sports. These were decisions made by decision makers who were looking out for the general well-being and interest of the public. We just reported it.

Same goes for cancellation of other cherished activities and events, such as the St. Patrick’s Day parades and so on. And it’s people who are making the decision to panic buy toilet paper; I don’t know about the other guy, but unless you’re the Bradys, I can’t see how stocking up on dozens and dozens of rolls of toilet paper will help your situation.

As far as lessons go, I read a nice piece in the Quad City Times, the daily newspaper serving my home area, about how this compares to the Spanish influenza outbreak of 1918.

Long story short, when the Spanish flu struck the cities of Davenport, Rock Island and Moline in the fall of 1918, leaders imposed severe restrictions on businesses and social activities. We were a few years away from the NFL being formed, and there was no NBA or other sports leagues, so we have no guide to go by there. But just as it is now, there were a few who accused people of overreacting and said the whole crisis was way overblown. (Remember, 1918 was when television was the thing of science fiction, and the only radio available was experimental stations.)

By the third week of the quarantine orders, there were fewer cases and most of the restrictions were lifted. There was a brief relapse and some of the measures were re-enacted, but by mid-December, the Spanish flu had passed and all of the moratoriums were lifted.

Things were similar statewide, with Des Moines imposing similar restrictions.

It must have been a {span data-dobid=”hdw”}hellacious{/span} two months, and yes hundreds of people died in the Quad Cities. (I don’t have available what the toll was in Cass County, although I am certain many people died. Statewide, some 6,118 people were killed.)

I’m hoping that things will get better soon, but as we adjust to this new reality all we can do is wait.

And pray for you fellow man. If they’re caretakers or if they become ill, please think of them and say a prayer.

As our president said, “We will get through this ... together.”

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.