Mark Keohane, writing for the Cape Times and IOL Sport, says that sport, through its personalities and fans, will never be in shut down mode.
We don’t have any sport at this time of global social distancing because of Covid-19. We, as a nation, may be in lock down mode from today but on-field sport across the world is in shutdown mode.
Off the field, sport will and can never be shut down.
Players, coaches, administrators, sports writers and the most important people of all, the sports fans, have taken to social media to give encouragement to everyone, to share their own experience of dealing with self-isolation and also how they are coping with lock down.
It doesn’t matter the sporting code or the country, there is an endless supply of content from the world’s sportspeople.
These sporting celebrities are proving as inspirational off the field, as they do when performing their chosen profession. They’re educating the everyday person about Covid-19, in terms of the do’s and the don’ts. Each sporting individual I follow on Twitter (which is my go-to social media platform) has given a personalized perspective. Some have tested positive for the Coronavirus and immediately let their followers know. They’ve given updates on the recovery and also detailed the experience.
It is so important they continue to do this, so those passionate sporting fans, which make up such a large percentage of the world’s population, can take seriously the threat of this pandemic and also be versed in how to best safeguard against the infection.
What these sporting celebrities are telling their followers is that the virus doesn’t know status. It also doesn’t know the origin of country, religion, colour or culture. It also doesn’t know financial well-being, in terms of who can contract it.
One of the first global profile athletes to confirm his infection was basketball icon Kevin Durant.
When one follower retweeted with a ‘WOW’, Durant’s response was ‘why WOW?’ He emphasized just how real the virus is and that no one is exempt.
Durant has been at the forefront of a very needed social awareness to sports followers.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has also used his social media platforms to constantly remind people about the importance of washing hands, basic hygiene, avoiding others and doing their bit for their next door neighbour by staying indoors.
Kolisi and his 2019 World Cup-winning Springboks sacrificed to give our nation an incredible day of joy when beating England in the World Cup final. That day has turned into one endless day of feeling happy about rugby, the Springboks and being a South African.
Kolisi and his teammates have urged South Africans to make every sacrifice necessary and to show the kind of fight that characterizes the spirit of a united and happier South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa showed his statesmanship in addressing the nation about the 21-day lock down. He spoke with clarity, certainty and empathy. Our sporting people have followed the president’s lead and addressed their followers with as much conviction.
The seriousness of the lock down can’t be overstated.
If the late President Nelson Mandela could sacrifice 27 years in a prison cell for a better future for all South Africans, then 21 days in lock down in one’s home is more a privilege than it could ever be a sacrifice.
Sport is not being played, but sport discussion is rampant, alive and live on every social media platform.
Join the debates on which winger you would choose between Bryan Habana and Cheslin Kolbe, if only one could be chosen. Manchester United or Liverpool at their most dominant eras? Chiefs or Pirates, which combined ‘best of the best’ XI would have more Chiefs or Pirates players?
Dale Steyn or Allan Donald at their peak?
Pick a sport, pick a question and start the debate.
Relive the many glorious videos on YouTube of sporting moments that can never dull and, over the next 21 days start everyday with Chad Le Clos’s 2012 Olympic 200 metre butterfly final win against the legendary American Michael Phelps and end every day with Cheslin Kolbe stepping half the England team as the Springboks won the World Cup.
Do that and the 21-day lock down will feel more like sporting heaven than any form of isolation.
WATCH: Kolisi shares a day in self-isolation