It was a mild evening on March 11, 2020. I was at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT as a stage producer for the New York Islanders’ AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
We had a few home games left with the final game on April and then four days later I would transition from the ice to the grass for opening day with the Colorado Rockies’ double-A affiliate Hartford Yard Goats.
As a local news anchor for WTIC Newstalk 1080, I had been following the development of the coronavirus. I understood what was going on outside of the United States, but you honestly do not understand the severity of something until it truly hits home.
Here I am at the arena, watching the game, half-paying attention while I’m working. If I had known then what the next 365 days would be like, I would have taken in every second, every slapshot, every hard check.
During that game I received a notification that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, the NBA announced that they would be suspending the season indefinitely. Days later, the MLB and NHL would follow suit. March 11 would be the last time that I would not only work a game, but also the last time that year I’d attend a sporting event.
I had been luckier than most; still employed as a writer for Brobible, Prime Time Sports Talk, and a news anchor WTIC. I watched numerous colleagues and friends announce they had been laid off or furloughed. My heart broke every time because I know those people have the same passion for this industry as me.
Fortunately, some of my friends got to return to sports in some capacity; documenting their experience in the bubble, on the sidelines with a mask, talking about how much they did not like getting a swab dug into their brain. At the end, though, all worth it. I commend all of my friends who endured this to help bring sports back to the people who needed a break from the uncertainly of the world.
In this time of uncertainty, however, I was self motivated. I pressed even harder to make my own content, including my YouTube series Yelling From The Bench. It taught me about myself and what I can do when my back is against the wall.
I had spent the previous four years consistently covering games. Starting from my time with QBSN at Quinnipiac University all the way to that March 11 evening, and it was tough was at first. I missed the long days of running around the arena, getting to experience my surroundings at their quietest to an eruption of celebration in mere hours.
I know that I’m going to be back. The walk into the ballpark to say “Hi” to all the ushers and vendors, getting to see the fans again, and feeling the energy of thousands of people. Their excitement to root for the team.
Writing this was not just for me. This was for everyone that has not worked a sporting event in a year, or even attended one. The veterans that have worked in this industry for decades to the college intern that was excited to just their foot in the door.
This was also for everyone who lost their jobs. Or, even worse, their lives. To the frontline workers who spent day after day doing their jobs tired, frustrated, and heartbroken. Yet selfless.
It has been a tough year, but like the teams we work for that have faced season-ending defeat, they’ve come back the next year with that same optimism, and we will, too.
Follow John Supowitz on Twitter @ImThatSupi
Main Image Credit: https://imgur.com/WEinf7w