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Fenway Park 37,731 fans can fit into Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox. But not now. Photo ©Eric Fenby

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Sports guy turns home teacher

Gary Jordan finds that the virus has shut down sports but opened opportunities

Published on April 11, 2020

Over the past few years, I’ve had the immense pleasure, as well as pride, of writing for The American covering varying sports. The National Football League has been a staple of my work and the games in London, now a mainstay of the calendar, are always great to inspire words. Having always been a follower of many differing pastimes there is always something that will require a few column inches, or a more in-depth article. However, in the past few weeks with the world at large trying to beat a foe that is doing its best to derail everything we would normally take for granted, those columns aren’t as easy to fill, and the words don’t seem to come as easy.

The outbreak of COVID-19 put the brakes on all sports around the globe. One by one big events and leagues have been postponed and cancelled with no certainty as to when they will start again. This of course will have a huge knock on effect when they do recommence. Those that were in mid-season have the task of finishing campaigns with as minimal disruption as possible. Some leagues hadn’t started yet which although convenient has its own issues of shortened seasons or even scrapping them all together and looking ahead to a fresh start next year. Sports shouldn’t be at the front of people’s thoughts while battling this pandemic, but for many it’s their livelihoods, from players, coaches and staff to those that work in arenas and stadiums. There is also the social aspect of those in attendance. Some have sports to connect them to friends, and the camaraderie they share when supporting their team, or favourite player.

Personally, the shutdown of sports has also meant for the most part my laptop has been closed too. Most sports writers thrive in the moment, the live report giving the reader a unique take on an event, passage of play, or even an announcement. My writing, both for The American and beyond, tries to give a theme or story behind what we know or see. The facts are there but present themselves almost in story mode. To do this I need a story. And the stories just aren’t there. I’m currently writing my second book, which for the most part is historically led but is also a very current affair. Enough to keep me going you would say. The flip side is that when the schools were closed, my home life was also turned upside down.

Home workout Quarantine workout – model not Gary Jordan. Photo ©Kari Shea

Three children that are at very different academic stages means a real challenge with home schooling. Attempting to timetable their work amongst every day life has been an eye opener and a new appreciation of what our schoolteachers do for our children. My partner is very much on hand to steer the family ship, and teamwork is key. My day job (its early mornings if we want to be drawn into technicalities) is that of a key worker in these times of need. Nowhere near to the level of what the fabulous NHS staff are doing but working in health retail it still has its demands. These factors mean that currently the laptop has sat idle for some time. It hasn’t gathered cobwebs and isn’t in need of hour-long updates, as the intention of tapping the keyboard does come now and then, but the real flow and inspiration isn’t coming as easy as it was just a few short weeks ago.

I’ve found myself going onto social media less, which is a good thing. Time spent there scrolling through posts and tweets that seem to blend into each other can drag even the most free-spirited person down during this time. Yes, its important to keep up to date with the news but when for most part its seemingly on a loop its been likened to Groundhog Day by my better half. Like most other households, we’ve found ourselves doing more cleaning and tidying than before, to the point where most of those backburner chores have been done. As mentioned, I’m fortunate that I can leave the house each day, for those that must stay in it is a challenge. Finding ways to keep yourself occupied without repeating activities is a new concept to some. From reading to baking, learning a new hobby to taking an existing one to the next level. All good ways of keeping yourself stimulated.

Having written this, I’ve found myself in a situation where I can find time to write and be productive. In the coming weeks you may see more work from me on these pages, at least that’s the intention. Topics will be varied as I look to broaden across more sports, and in turn I hope this will widen your knowledge too.

Oh, and don’t forget to exercise daily. Just do it within the correct guidelines, please!

Get Gary’s book Out of the Shadows: The Story of the 1982 England World Cup Team here.

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