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Column: Finally returning to normal

A year ago, the sports world and the United States came to a screeching halt as the Coronavirus began hitting home. First, COVID canceled the SEC and NCAA basketball tournaments.

Then every single sport conference and league began canceling their seasons as the global pandemic raged. Mississippi State had played a midweek baseball game in Biloxi and just like that the season was over, and so was my chance to do some freelance work for the Daily Journal in Tupelo.

I can remember being frustrated with the situation. My hours at a restaurant in Starkville where I worked were cut and suddenly I had all the time in the world to go out and fish. Each day for the first week, I would go fish while also filling out job applications.

Just yesterday, I took photos at a Natchez High School softball game on my way home from work. Fans filled the bleachers, and others stood close by along the fence line. At basketball, baseball, and soccer games, I covered this past month I have noticed an increase in attendance.

Sports have always been an escape for people from jobs, war, and protests. Lately it seems to be an escape from the pandemic, one that has taken a toll on all the people in the world; 6,883 people have died in Mississippi as a result of COVID.

This fall my uncle Tim died as a result of COVID and other underlying health issues. He was an outdoorsman, he loved sports, and he loved Mississippi State.

I know he would have been celebrating Mississippi State’s win over Kentucky in basketball on Thursday. It was the first time the Bulldog’s basketball team beat Kentucky in 12 years.

Seeing more fans in the stands at high school games is great because there are only so many chances a parent has to see their kids play. As COVID cases are on the decline, and more and more Mississippians are vaccinated, maybe there will be a day where everyone can go watch a ball game if they wanted too.

A year after COVID essentially began, the sports world is returning to a normalcy. The NCAA March Madness is right around the corner, and SEC baseball is about to begin.

This past year has been a challenge, it has been different and yet, if you are reading, this you made it. We will never forget what COVID has taken from us, but we can at least keep moving toward normalcy.

I hope that we can keep going forward. I hope that football will be played under the lights in front of a full crowd. Who knows. It may be baseball if we are lucky.

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