Passion on Hold: A Husker Fan’s Guide to Surviving the Pandemic

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Even before the world went haywire, this blog had lain a bit dormant. The complications of a reality balancing a profession and raising two teenagers is enough to strain any content provider – to the point where the last thing on the site was about some person named Siwa.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic, and within two weeks our entire world became frozen in amber. Every sport ground to a halt as we all learned the meaning of “social distancing” and the pleasures of eating our favorite restaurant food out of Styrofoam boxes.

Given the nature of my real world job, the pandemic has been pretty all-consuming, to the point where I’ve developed some pretty unhealthy habits fairly quickly. So coming back here to the reassuring world of Nebraska football (and after the last few years, who would have thought that would be true?) makes a lot of sense.

So expect to see more content coming for a while. Some if it might not be terribly timely (like coverage of the recruiting class), but it’s a good exercise for me to get caught up on things. But all of it will be proceeding under the assumption – but, let’s face it, really more the fervent hope – that the 2020 season will go off as scheduled.

But before we back to the football, indulge me for just a bit to think about this pandemic, and how we collectively respond to it, take care of each other, and take care of ourselves.

The great social stress test

I’ve heard the social distancing that we are all practicing now, with all its attendant challenges, is a grand social experiment to see how an open society handles such a challenge. I don’t think that’s the best way to describe what’s happening, though.

Instead, I look at it as a stress test for our society. Without delving too far into politics, I think it’s fair to say that even before the pandemic our social system wasn’t the healthiest. Now, we are asking one of the hardest things of a society – to make individual sacrifices for the collective good.

Most of you reading this wouldn’t die from COVID-19, the illness that comes from coronavirus infection. At least, probably, as we still don’t know nearly enough about this particular strain (which is why it’s referred to as novel coronavirus, not because it’ll be available in paperback this Christmas).

But you might be infected and not know it – the thing has a 14-day incubation period and we are criminally short on what testing we do have – so while you’re out and about you could be infecting people and not know it.

This video explains it very well.

So all this sacrifice you’re going for probably isn’t for you. It’s not for someone you know. It’s for someone you’ll never meet, to make sure to do your part so they don’t get sick and die.

That kind of altruism is a big ask, and for how long we as a nation can keep it up will tell us a lot. That’s why I think of it as a stress test – the system gets challenged and we see when and if it holds up, buckles, or fails altogether.

In addition to the general rules (focus on what you can control, stay on a schedule, avoid overconsuming news), there’s two things I am working on as a way to get through this ordeal.

Be good to someone else

First, take steps to be good to others. The big sacrifice you’re being asked to make is for someone who doesn’t really have a face. So find someone to be good to, to make their lives a little better. Eat out at a (local, take-out) restaurant, and tip liberally. If you can, keep paying the people you would normally pay (cleaners, hairdressers, and the like) who might be out of work during this social distancing. Call friends and family you haven’t talked to. Donate food (or time, if you can) at your local food bank.

Sure, it’s always good to do this. But particularly now, finding some very specific someone to do some very specific (even if its small) kindness will help give your brain a visceral reminder of why you do good things for others. And maybe that little buzz of good feeling – that small little tapping-in to the cosmic harmony that you feel when you act selflessly – will help recharge your batteries just a bit when your Netflix queue is getting thin or your kids aren’t quite the model home-school students you hoped.

Be good to yourself

On an almost daily basis, I have had to remind the people I share a home with that it’s going to be important to be patient with each other and show grace, because we’re going to be stuck with each other for a while. But the same holds true for the person you see in the mirror.

Yes, I know, there are people dying, and people making heroic sacrifices to help care for them. Yes, in comparison to that the loss of college baseball or the XFL or movies or whatever you are missing right now is trivial.

Let yourself grieve it anyway. Don’t shame yourself into trying to convince yourself that you aren’t sad, or anxious, or angry, or however it’s expressing itself.

You’re human, and you’ve lost something important to you, or fear that you will. Grieving that loss – as trivial as it might seem in the light of this moment – will help you stay strong and endure what’s to come.

Hail Varsity’s Erin Sorensen shared this piece, which really helped open my eyes about what I was processing throughout all of this, I’d suggest you check it out.

Enough preaching, I promise. From here going forward, until we get more concrete news about the 2020 season, it’ll be time to start spitting some fresh, hot college football content. We all need something positive to focus on, right Husker Fan?

GBR, baby.

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