We can toss sports into the bottomless categorical cylinder of “things we take for granted.”

ESPN specials “The Last Dance” and “Long Gone Summer” are among programs that have helped keep sports-hungry TV spectators’ taste buds mildly satisfied, but it’s not the same as watching live events.

A few professional sports, including horse racing and auto racing, have kicked back into gear. And there are plans, at least, for WNBA and NBA seasons. While shortened seasons and a no-fans-in-the-stands atmosphere are strange, it’s … something.

Kids who usually depend on Little League or other youth organizations for additional structure and physical activity in their lives haven’t had that for the last two-plus months — and some still don’t have those opportunities even this summer. However, several youth baseball and softball teams’ practices/games are under way.

While parents and guardians may have taken advantage of that extra time to bond differently with their children or tackle some home improvement tasks, it’s nice to see families infiltrating the fields again.

High school sports have returned after a near three-month hiatus.

As Boyd County’s cross country coach pointed out Monday, the usual complaints about running a little extra weren’t existent Monday. Although those grumbling expressions will undoubtedly be back, the youngsters are right now just happy to lace up the running shoes and somewhat compete again.

Some athletes were already in pretty good shape, as Ashland’s football coach noted. That’s refreshing to see.

On a big-picture scale, this country needs sports right now.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating as both public health and economic issues. Some businesses may not bounce back. Others will, but their successes were delayed and it will take loads of hard work to rebound. Above all, lives were lost — and people are still dying, although not at as alarming a rate.

This particular editorial is not about how to balance the coronavirus and sports.

As with many of The Daily Independent’s editorials, it’s not about politics, either, even though some readers will interpret it that way.

The point is simple here. Sports provide an escape. They’re an outlet, an avenue to navigate away from the hard realities of life. Sports elicit a broad scope of emotions, many of which include joy. Sports promote unity, not just with packed stadiums (it will be a while before we see that again), but with unbreakable teammate bonds.

Our country’s divisiveness level is high. Even though the protests (notice we did not print “riots”) have been beneficial, evoking uncomfortable yet necessary discussions for growth, the path some have chosen have created disarray among American people.

Remember 9/11? When we needed patriotic unity the most, sports helped bring us together — American flags flew vigorously, whipping in the wind, and our country stood in solidarity against terrorism. The National Anthem would play in 15 MLB ballparks a day and 15 NFL stadiums a week as we honored our military and first responders while embracing our freedom.

We hope medical experts soon make discoveries and learn more important information to lead us to the end of the coronavirus nightmare. Our country’s leaders need a break, too; they’ve had too many sleepless nights and constant make-or-break decisions with which to deal.

Sports won’t solve our country’s problems, but it’s become crystal clear just how vital they are.

This country needs sports right now.

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