Thursday, July 9, 2020

Answer No. 2

TigerBlog has more experience that he'd like to have around Princeton Athletes who have just suffered season-ending injuries, like torn ACLs and broken legs and dislocated shoulders.

He's never really known what to say in those moments, other than a simple "I'm sorry."

As for the athletes themselves, the tears they've shed haven't all been about the pain. In many cases, those tears have been about the fact that through the pain they are processing the fact that the season is gone, just like that.

And TB hasn't really known what to say. He has been always been empathetic, and he's wanted to convey that in those moments.

At the very least, he's tried not to make it worse.

Maybe it's just been best to smile, nod and say nothing.

To that end, maybe that would be best today. A smile. A nod. Maybe an "I'm sorry."

And then nothing.

The Ivy League announcement last night that fall sports had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic was more anticlimax than drama. It seemed that pretty much everyone knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Is there anything to say?

It's all so incredible, or, even better, to use the word TB has used all spring - surreal.

As TB said earlier this week, when the spring season was abruptly cancelled in March, there was the idea that at least things would be fine come the fall. Now that is clearly not the case.

And so the Ivy League had to start with where its main responsibility always is, with student safety. In this case, it's student-athlete safety.

TigerBlog is always an optimist. He likes to see the bright side of everything.

He's confident that things will get back to normal at some point. There will be Ivy League athletics again.

It just won't be this fall.

It's not easy for that message to comfort the current group of athletes, in much the same way that the idea that there would be another season would comfort an injured athlete. It's not easy to have to pivot from the routine that athletics usually lends itself to in a normal season.

Think about it. Athletes train year-round knowing where they need to be in April, July and September. And now it's all up in the air.

Of course, this isn't easy for anyone. It's certainly not easy for the administrators who had to make the decisions, or anyone else affected by it.

The last time there was a fall without Princeton football was 1871. And even in that year, there was still football, only the team played informal games against the Seminary.

Every year since, Princeton has played at least one football game against an outside opponent. The only time anything came close to having a season cancelled were the seasons of 1917 and 1918 (World War I) and 1944 (World War II).

In the World War I years, Princeton played opponents like Fort Dix and Camp Upton, with two games in 1917 and three games in 1918.

In the 1944 season Princeton played Muhlenberg and Swarthmore, as well as the Atlantic City Naval Air Station.

And now there is this.

When TB left Franklin Field last November after Princeton's 28-7 win over Penn to finish an 8-2 season, he would in no way have guessed that 2020 would be the year that Princeton football - and fall sports - would pause.

Nobody would have.

Not the players or coaches. Certainly not the people who had to make the really tough choices that were announced yesterday.

Things will get back to normal. For now, though, that doesn't make it any easier.

This is one of those times where it's best to say nothing.

What is there to say?

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