A Reflection on Lost Endings

Following cancellations and postponements in sports and everything else, the perfect ending has been taken away from so many athletes, coaches and fans alike. All that we’re left with are questions of ‘What if?’

Bela Kirpalani, Editor-at-Large

I realized that I spent my last spring break of college in the exact way I had spent every spring break before that: playing a lot of FIFA 20, watching reruns of classic games and wishing for the return of some sense of normalcy. The only difference is that this year, I didn’t really have a choice. 

My last semester of college was effectively ending prematurely and in a way that I never could have imagined. I began to spiral in a whirlwind of sad thoughts; I feared I would never see some of my closest friends again — one was going back home to Singapore, another was scheduled to join the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan weeks after graduation. As an RA, I would never get to host another hall snacks session with my residents or feast at Palladium brunch with my friends. I didn’t even realize that my last night in my dorm room would be my final one. 

It’s never easy when you don’t get the ending you imagined. It’s even harder when you don’t know what the future holds.

This same feeling of an ending being ripped away has hit so many athletes, fans and coaches as a wave of cancellations and postponements rippled through the sports stratosphere. 

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Before you get too upset, I realize that after all, I am just talking about sports. There are certainly far more pressing issues in a global pandemic like ours, and the decision to put sports on hold was absolutely the correct one. But sports have a way of compelling us to go crazy for every play, worship athletes who defy the laws of nature and forget about everything else in life. 

Sports have a way of making moments so much richer for everyone who loves them.

On March 12, the NCAA officially canceled the men’s and women’s college basketball championships, which meant that we would never get to see Oregon great, Sabrina Ionescu, Baylor’s Lauren Cox and so many others have one last run at a national title. The South Carolina Gamecocks enjoyed their best-ever season under AP Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year Dawn Staley, winning 32 games, earning the SEC title and finishing the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation for the first time in school history. Those players more than earned a trip to the NCAA tournament — but they’ll never know how it would have ended. The same goes for the thousands of other college athletes who never even had the chance to start their final seasons.

The NBA season has been suspended indefinitely, and whatever the league ends up doing will certainly impact the WNBA in some way. Was Vince Carter’s last game ever a crushing defeat to the New York Knicks? 

Liverpool was enjoying an electrifying title run in the Premier League. Then the season was suspended, forcing even the lightning-fast Mohamed Salah to a screeching halt and throwing the team’s fated chance at glory up in the air. Since then, there have been calls to void the season and declare no winner, numerous suggestions on how and when to resume play and prayers to end the season and grant Liverpool the trophy. I can’t help but feel for the players who worked for that moment all their lives and now live in uncertainty about its fruition.

Meanwhile, in baseball, opening day came and went without a single at-bat.

Instead of witnessing the world’s greatest athletes compete at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, we are forced to wait until next year. How many swimmers, gymnasts, fencers, runners and weightlifters have waited their entire lives for this moment only to have one more test in front of them? What will next summer even look like? 

Instead of watching the next gut-wrenching loss or fairytale ending, we’re sitting at home, playing a lot of FIFA 20, watching reruns of classic games and wishing for the return of some sense of normalcy.

While we think back on what could have been, all we’re left with are the questions of ‘What if?’

The Sports Girl is a weekly column that features a girl’s take on sports. Yes, a girl. Yes, on sports.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 30, 2020 e-print edition. Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]

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