On February 8, 2020 my family and I went to a Columbus Blue Jackets game when they hosted the Colorado Avalanche. Two days later my grandfather passed away and I spent a week in South Carolina. I attended a few other events by myself before COVID shut down the world, including my final Purdue event on February 27 when the men’s basketball team beat Indiana in Mackey Arena, but those were work related and not family fun. After covering the Indianapolis Shortridge boys basketball sectional final on March 7, 2020 I only worked a handful of high school football games in the fall and no basketball games whatsoever.
Fast forward nearly 14 months. My family and I finally got to attend a live sporting event in person, and we were giddy to do so.
I think it is safe to say a 14 month gap will not happen again in our lifetimes barring something else disastrous. In addition to being Purdue football season ticket holders we usually go to about a dozen Indianapolis Indians games, a Colts game or two, a Pacers game or two, several MLB games (we made it to 11 games in 2019 at 7 different ballparks), college baseball at both Purdue and Miami, and more. I married well in finding a fellow sports fan, and when we travel we usually try to figure out how to nab a new MLB park (I only need 9 more to get all 30). Not going to anything as a family for more than a year was jarring to say the least.
Thankfully, Alexander Field was there. 2021 will be the only time where Purdue baseball outdraws Purdue basketball, but we’re in odd times. Alexander Field is allowing fans, and fans are showing up. We made the trek to West Lafayette today and it was about an average pre-COVID crowd of a couple hundred people. It’s a small ballpark though (max capacity 1,500), so a few hundred feels full. That didn’t matter though. It was something normal.
Purdue is doing a great job with distancing and protocols, but as long as you’re watching with a mask you’re fine, and it feels normal. It was great to just hear Carson Tucker’s voice again. It was great to be outside in perfect weather. It was great to drive through campus with a purpose and a destination. It was great to take a ball and throw with my son on the first base side. It was great to cheer as Trent Johnson threw a gem (that the bullpen blew with a 7-run 8th inning).
In short, it was great to be a fan again.
The last year sucked. No doubt. As a native son from Indiana and a basketball fan of both high school and college if you had told me I would go an entire season without attending a single game at any level I would have asked when, exactly, I went into the coma. On a bright spring day at a college baseball field in West Lafayette my family and I had our first steps back. As a society we’re finally coming out of this. My wife and I got our first vaccine shot a week ago Friday (and if you can, get the vaccine. Let’s end this) and it finally feels like this mess can be over soon. Today was liberating in that regard. We’re not totally back, but having fans at an on campus sporting even was great to experience even though Iowa broke open a 1-1 game with 7 runs in the 8th to eventually win 8-5.
Next up (after some more baseball): September 4 at Ross-Ade vs. Oregon State.
I’ll see you there.