Monday, March 16, 2020


It was right around 1 Saturday afternoon when TigerBlog texted Matt Madalon with a simple "how are you?"

In the next 10 seconds, his phone rang. It was Madalon, the head coach of the second-ranked Princeton men's lacrosse team.

"What are you doing?" TB asked.

"Nothing," Madalon said.

Nothing. Matt Madalon, nothing, on a March Saturday at 1. Who would have ever thought it possible?

That was the exact moment that Princeton was supposed to face off with Penn in its Ivy League opener. It was perfect lacrosse weather, and a huge crowd figured to be at Sherrerd Field for a game between the defending Ivy champs and the 5-0 Tigers.

And now? Nothing.

TigerBlog tried to remember the last time he had a March weekend with no game to cover. He's pretty sure it was back in 1988.

Nineteen eighty eight. Think about that.

TB is pretty sure that he did the same thing that every single player, coach or staff member on every college team scheduled to play did Saturday. He looked at the clock, saw the time and thought of what he would normally have been doing at that time.

He thought about when he would have left home. He thought about what pregame would have been like. When the face-off should have been.

Even after he talked to Madalon, he imagined what the game would have been like, what the score would have been, when halftime would have been.

The events of the last week unfolded at a rate that TB has still not processed. It went from a weekend of lacrosse with the upcoming March Madness to play out to nothing anywhere. No games. No pro sports. No school. Almost no students on campus.

Each day - no, forget each day, each few minutes seemed to bring with it more astonishing news that nobody could have foreseen.

The COVID-19 virus continues to make its way through the world's countries and societies with a path that remains uncertain. The term "social distancing" has gone from never uttered to the most-used phrase in the English language.

It's also somewhat like the biggest snowstorm ever has descended on the area, forcing people to prepare for an uncertain amount of time without being able to leave home. Only it's beautiful outside. People can go anywhere they want.

It's the weirdest of times, that's for sure. The most surreal. 

As TB said Friday, he'll be here every day as always, with some sort of content that doesn't focus solely on the virus. He's not sure exactly how that will look, but he'll come up with something.

For today, though, he did want to touch on something from a few days ago.

The enormity of what has happened is hard to fathom. There are obvious questions about what is to come next, especially for the athletes whose seasons have been ended by this situation.

For now, though, you have a lot of college students who are trying to figure out what happened, what they're going to do and how they're going to adjust to all of it. Their emotions are all over the place with the way their experience has been completely disrupted.

It's easy to understand it in general terms. Friday afternoon TigerBlog got a different view of it.

The weather Friday was more like late May than mid March, and so it didn't really give the feel that anything was off about all of the students who were moving out of the dorms. It was like any other time, only it was nothing like any other time, because yes, 70 degrees notwithstanding, it was mid-March, and this was the last thing any of them figured would be happening.

TigerBlog went to help Miss TigerBlog gather up all of her stuff and move it home, just like he did a year ago, just like he did with his son several times before.

This had some of those elements. It was a time of saying goodbye, saying they'd stay in touch, saying they'd see each other soon.

But this was nothing like those other times, because this time also mixed in was a different kind of sadness. They weren't exactly going through the motions of saying goodbye, because there's always a sadness with that and this was geniune.

It took TB awhile to put his finger on it, as he saw cars being packed up, boxes being carried down steps, clothes being packed away.

It was that they were doing this all while they were in a state of shock. Maybe not a clinical one, but that's how TB saw it.

They were stunned by what was going on. They weren't prepared for it.

And they were faced with something that no Princeton students, or any 19-22 year olds want to ever have to face.

What could they do about it?


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