When the crowds were removed from March Madness' 2020 edition, they crowed about the clear, callous overreaction.
When Rudy Gobert's coronavirus diagnosis torpedoed the NBA season, they began to quiet down their protestations just a bit, realizing that the worst was clearly yet to come.
And by the time Major League Baseball, the NHL, the MLS, the NCAA Tournament, and the Masters all altered their plans indefinitely, it should have been clear to every American, outside of the crowd at Thursday's Post Malone concert, that this devastatingly universal decree was essential.
It goes without saying that every single one of us would rather be watching sports than sitting on our couches, drastically altering the next several months of our plans, whether we're embedded in the world of athletics or not. All we can do is listen to those in charge, who've been recommending that no more than 250 people gather in any one space at any time. If that's an overreach, then how can you justify trying to cram sports under the bar simply because you believe you can't live without them?
I, personally, was set to cover my first Spring Training games this week, meeting with dozens of players face-to-face, bringing you snarky and humanizing insights. The type of thing you can only do in close proximity. First, they created distance, and they were right to do so. Then, the games were gone. The facilities shuttered. The sport cloaked in shadow.
The players are being sent home, joining the masses who've chosen to shut themselves off as best they can, working hard to flatten the curve instead of extend it by flouting their joy. Events are fun. Sporting events are a release. But when the spread of a virus we still know so little about is intrinsically related to our closeness, one of our country's supposed greatest strengths, it's necessary to sacrifice frills for containment. There are worse injustices than not getting to watch a 12-5 upset materialize in Cleveland.
This isn't about you, personally, in more ways than one. If you view the coronavirus as a glorified flu, know that the additional media trumpeting comes only because it is far deadlier, far more mysterious, and spreading faster than our underprepared hospitals can handle it. Yes, perhaps we should all be so careful during flu season, too, instead of callously boastful about how neither is a matter of national crisis, as the elderly quarantine and die.
Pausing our most popular, large-scale events, as much as you'll miss them during their prolonged, strange absence, was beyond a necessity. If anything, it began too late.
If the death count remains low in a month's time, it's not going to be confirmation that this was one, big overreaction. It's going to mean that the process worked.