Words can not describe the situation transpiring at the moment. The pandemic feels almost too surreal to stomach.

Very rarely…almost never, really, does the entire universe share something in common. However, an invasive enemy is collecting victims, altering lives, and instilling fear into households worldwide.

During the ‘rough-draft’ process of creating this piece, I found myself starting a handful of sentences with “the worst part about this is,” followed by something I deemed noteworthy. It feels like I could put a blindfold on and throw a dart at a board full of the reasons as to why this pandemic is awful, and any of them would suffice.

Namely, my entire life got flipped upside down within a night’s sleep. I can’t leave my house, and I can’t see some of my older family members. Pretty selfish of me to say that when families are losing loved ones, the unemployment numbers are erupting, and people have bills to pay.

Regardless of how this pandemic is directly impacting you, I truly think that the worst part about this virus is that it does not discriminate. Much like cancer, or death, these entities care not about the color of your skin, the shoes you wear, the money you make, the way you treat people, and so on. They just attack. This is common knowledge though; I am not stating anything unordinary.

Making sense of this situation is an almost impossible task.

Our society is dominated by social media, where platforms enable a constant spread of information. Through excessive consumption, people are spoonfed facts (some portrayed correctly, others incorrectly, opinions) which can be hegemonic, and manipulated narratives, which contribute to public discourse.

Whether it be through visiting a social media app, watching the news (frankly, any form of media consumption) people are heavily impacted. Subconsciously consumers of media subscribe to hegemonic ideologies, retain and recite information or misinformation, and become reliant.

Fear-mongering is one of the strongest tactics used by media mandated news, after all. This is not a criticism of our society, despite its detriments, but the role of media is immense. Having said that, I’ve spent the first few weeks of quarantine avoiding media consumption as best as I can.

Because our society is predicated upon media consumption on a 24-hour cycle, steering away from media is even more impossible than trying to make sense of this situation. After my Twitter timeline was flooded with COVID-19 insight and analysis (some legitimate, some disillusioning), my Snapchat followed suit.

COVID-19 forced its way into my email inbox and, finally, onto almost every website I visit. This grew overwhelming, which is why I stepped away from some media, but nothing compares to COVID-19 infiltrating my house. Being away at college surrounded by people my age during this situation was both distracting and somewhat comforting.

At college, the pandemic still felt fictional, almost like my campus was exempt. Other schools began shifting to online schooling and urged on-campus housing to depart, but as long as I was surrounded by like-minded individuals on my campus, this could not affect me. Until it did and we got sent home, too.

With each day that passed, my comfort subsided while my confusion grew.

What once seemed like a joke, or nothing more than an insignificant conversation, became our reality. I mistakenly undermined the implications of this virus and now I’m on house arrest and have no clue what day of the week it is. 

The way feelings work is funny. When you’re happy, you may know why and you may not. But, you’re happy and you want to maintain it. Likewise for sadness, except you usually want to eviscerate it. People can resonate with hundreds of feelings and emotions – that’s what makes us human.

The thoughts and feelings that I’ve endured throughout this entire situation are inexplicable. I am sure plenty of people can and will relate, but I do not think that anyone feels entirely mutual about this situation. Some of the feelings that should come to mind are hopelessness, emptiness, loneliness, fearful, and more.

But none captivate how I truly feel. In fact, I don’t even know how to try to describe how I feel because it’s almost like I am navigating through something with no end in sight. Like no one has an answer, no one has any optimism to offer, or anything that can provide reassurance.

For the first time in 20 years of existence, I feel powerless.

My friends and family alike are equally powerless, with some convincing themselves that they understand what is going on. The problem is, I struggle to believe anyone really knows what is going on.

People have directed me to the raw data associated with the spread of this virus. But those people know just as little about what follows as I do.

People regurgitate the information they’re equipped with by news media and other media outlets. Those people know just as little about what follows as I do.

People are enlisting professionals to elaborate on this situation. Those people know just as little about what follows as I do.

In fact, this is seemingly a day-to-day game unfolding before our eyes. Additionally, there is really nothing historically to compare to this situation, which contributes to the widespread fear. So I take everything anyone says to me with a grain of salt.

I think it is tremendously important to stay informed, especially with something of this magnitude, but living, breathing, and sleeping with COVID-19 on my mind is unbearable.

The way I’ve coped with this situation, other than carrying out mind-numbing activities, is refraining from COVID-19 dialogue. That is why I felt this was necessary to express my thoughts.

If I can’t escape from reality to sports, then I will try to do so elsewhere. Because most to all avenues to do so are temporarily closed, I spend most of my days playing Xbox with my friends or writing basketball. Music helps a great deal, too; I probably have music in my ears for half of the 24-hour day.

Anytime a friend brings up a new COVID-19 emergence or dwells upon how bad this situation really is, I stop them. That’s ironic, too, because no one talks more than me in my group. When it comes to my friend group, we are tightly-knitted and have known each other for years, so I am transparent and do not shut up. I refuse to engage in any discussions about COVID-19 or allow any to occur as long as I am there, though.

Surprisingly, I’ve done a damn good job so far. I’ve given NBA 2K20 an unhealthy amount of hours, but that is how I am surviving. The game alone means nothing to me. But being able to gather together in an Xbox party with my friends and distract myself for hours is invaluable. Our parents prevented us from getting together as soon as the quarantine began, which was an adjustment (albeit, for the best). 

When my work is done and nothing is being asked of me, I sit on that console with the same group of friends until 3-4 in the morning. Like clockwork. It probably sounds irresponsible and like a waste of time. But isn’t that the point? All we have is time. I’m wasting mine playing virtual basketball with friends so close to me that they’re family. I enjoy it and that is enough to distract me from the horrors of the world right now. The same way real basketball did.

And speaking of which, I miss basketball more than anything on this planet.

This was the first season where I studied the game more than just watching it leisurely and I fell in love with it. The same way I can’t describe the way how I feel about this pandemic, I can’t find words to encapsulate my love for basketball.

Playing the sport, at any level, is a feeling like no other. Watching it brings me more joy than a lot of things on this planet. For 20 years I’ve tried to pinpoint a pursuable passion of mine, and though sports have always been atop that list, basketball brings me joy and gives me a sense of self like no other.

The passion that I have for basketball, listening to stories from anyone willing to share, studying film, pulling numbers, writing, is abundant. I identify with basketball. I identify with anyone who loves basketball.

This pandemic, which resulted in suspending the NBA season, made me appreciate something more than I thought couldn’t be appreciated more. I spent every day of the season watching a game. On Sixers nights, that was the priority. Otherwise, I sometimes watched a game after the Sixers played, before they played, and always on days when they didn’t.

My Twitter timeline is basketball top to bottom and the emails in my inbox ranging from Basketball-Reference to Cleaning the Glass get read routinely. I supplemented frequent weightlifting with recreational basketball daily at school. What’s funny is, millions of people feel the same way.

Millions of people are more committed to the sport than me. People watch more, people think basketball more, people play more, people investigate numbers more. But we share a common passion for the sport, that no one can question.

With all of that taken away, we mourn, but I feel more appreciative of the sport. Of course, this season provided fans with fantastic storylines, parity in both conferences, birth to a new generation, and more; but all fall inferior to public health. 

To reiterate what Steph Curry said, “2020 ain’t it.”

This year has fallen nothing short of gut-wrenching, but we will survive. Our society is staring adversity in the face, approaching an economic collapse in the midst of a global pandemic. Because this pandemic affects everybody, we can put our differences aside for once and battle against a common enemy.

Tough times breed even tougher people and we will learn from this together. We will grow together and we will persevere. But, this requires all hands on deck. Do whatever you can do to help, be smart, be safe, and be grateful for your blessings.