Column: A break from sports is a positive, so treat it as such

Charleston's Samuel Bledsoe shoots over Monroe City's Joshua Talton in a Class 3 semifinal game Friday at the John Q Hammons Arena in Springfield.
David Jenkins ~ Standard Democrat

DENVER, Indiana Ė Growing up one of five children born to a small-level farmer and his stay-at-home wife, my wife never had the financial resources or the time available to take family vacations.

The Wilhelm familyís annual time away consisted of spending one lengthy day at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis with life resuming to normalcy with the next dayís sunrise.

That is precisely why, to this day, she has little interest in venturing away from home for an extended period. Or at all.

Ironically, traveling is my favorite thing to do in life, so one-third of the opportunities that I have enjoyed have been work-related, one-third by myself because my wife had no interest in accompanying me, with the final portion involving me figuratively dragging my family along because of that lack of interest.

So when the outbreak of COVID-19 unfolded recently, thus closing my wifeís school system (she is a special education teacher) until further notice, she wasnít the least bit concerned about being told to remain at home.

ďIíve been preparing for this my entire life,Ē she said enthusiastically.

Just as she isnít worried about remaining homebound, Iím not stressing over the immediate halting of sports throughout the world. After all, I have been preparing for this for perhaps a decade or more.

When I was younger, like many in my demographic, my life was consumed by sports. If I wasnít involved in sports as a journalist or coach, I was watching sports, talking about sports, or reading about sports. However, fast-forward to adulthood and that passion began to take a backseat to life.

Obviously, I still have an interest in sports, after all, I AM a sports editor. However, the days of watching games on any given weekend ended years ago.

When you attend sporting events for a living all week, the last thing you tend to want to do in your time away from work is to watch more sports.

Iíve covered LeBron James a half-dozen times, but Iím not positive I have ever actually watched him play on TV. I simply have better things to do with my time. And it would behoove sports fans across the globe to follow that philosophy over the next month or two.

My time away from work has involved traveling, reading (about non-sports topics), working out, taking care of my four-acre property, attending my kidsí events, or just simply running errands with my wife, as opposed to sitting and watching some golf tournament on TV.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. last night binge-watching a documentary on the revolutionary history of Cuba and loved every second of it.

I returned home to Indiana over the weekend and each of the past two days, my wife and I have spent hours wandering with our dogs throughout my father-in-lawís 240 acre-property and just ďchilling.Ē The fact that I didnít have some preview story to write or game to cover has, quite frankly, been a Godsend after not taking a break since last August when fall sports got underway.

Youíll have to forgive me if Iím not saddened that I am being forced to take a breath for a week or two (or more).

There are sports reporters worried about how to fill their time without the obvious (i.e. games and practices) taking place in front of their eyes, but the truth of the matter is, be it reporting on sports or any other portion of the newspaper, there are stories everywhere Ė even without games - you just have to look. And luckily for the readership, our staff has the experience and knowledge to do so.

With the recent announcements by various schools that prep sports will be on a hiatus until at least April 6, there certainly wonít be the degree of stories published on our site or in the Southeast Missourian as if the sporting world was operating under normal circumstances. However, this does afford our staff the opportunity to delve deeper into subject matters and write more features and columns on topics that often get pushed aside by day-to-day events.

In the meantime, Iím going to continue to walk my dogs, spend time at home, and learn more about Cuba, and I encourage sports fans everywhere to expand their intellectual horizons outside of whether the Carolina Panthers did the right thing or not by signing free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Life as we know it will resume to normal before long and I am prepared for that, as well.

Tom Davis is the regional sports editor for and the Southeast Missourian.

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