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Column: This sure doesn’t feel like conference championship week

Sports just don’t have the importance or powers of distraction that they do during normal years.

Ohio State v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Well, folks, it’s Big Ten Championship week. No really. The Ohio State football team will play for a conference title in roughly four and a half days. I know that it is mid-December, and I understand that they’ve only played five games, but believe it or not, at noon ET on Saturday, Dec. 19, the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats for all of the morally superior Big Ten marbles.

This college football season has been weird for an exceedingly large number of reasons, but one very small example is that it just hasn’t felt like a college football season. I am sure that this is a feeling that Big Ten and Pac-12 fans are experiencing far more than those of SEC and ACC teams, but the excitement and anticipation that I normally feel has been nearly completely absent this fall, for obvious reasons.

There are so many more important things going on in the world that make football far less meaningful in my life, but it’s not just my concern for the hundreds of thousands that have died, the millions who are — and have been — ill, and the tens of millions who have lost part, or all, of their financial stability.

Those things have deservedly overwhelmed just about any aspect of life, but my disconnect from the football season is different than that. In a normal season, there is a natural escalation and momentum that builds week to week as the stakes are incrementally raised with every win and loss. But this year, with the caution required to guard against last minute cancelations, it never felt like we got the opportunity to get excited enough for the games to matter nearly as much as they used to.

This football season has been rightly described as a rollercoaster from beginning to end because of the extreme highs and lows that the coronavirus has introduced to the proceedings. But, I would argue that this season has been the world’s worst rollercoaster; in fact, the world’s worst kiddie-coaster.

Due to the hesitance required by both teams and fans in the lead up to each and every game, the anticipation that normally accumulates on the slow, teasing ascent up a coaster’s hills has been muted this fall. Instead of 12 steady, excruciating climbs leading up to a dozen brief, but exhilarating releases of emotion and excitement, we got the equivalent of this:

No build-up, and only the briefest moments of excitement.

So yes, I am excited that Ohio State will get the chance to win their fourth-straight Big Ten title this weekend, and I am even more looking forward to seeing how they matchup against the country’s best in the College Football Playoff, but for reasons large and small, I’m not really that excited.

If our country had figured out a way to keep people safe rather than just accepting the inhumane number of deaths on a daily basis, maybe another B1G title would mean more. Perhaps if our elected officials would have cared enough to give individuals the medical and financial support that they needed to be protected during the the most devastating pandemic to hit our shores in over a century, the chance for Justin Fields and company to get revenge on Clemson would get me more amped up.

Instead, the next two or three football games are going to be just that to me; football games. While they will distract me for the three to four hours that they are being played, and wins will make me increasingly happy for 12-or-so hours, they won’t be the focus of my life or emotional energy as they otherwise would.

For various reasons — both sincere and gaslighting — we often throw around the aphorism that sports are a distraction from the difficulties of the real world. However, as literally thousands die every day, and no one in power seems to give a damn, the staying power that sports’ distraction has over my heart and mind seems to be sadly dwindling daily.

After some unexpected start and stops, I am back to posting a column every single day from preseason camp until whenever Ohio State’s football season ends. Some days they will be longer and in depth, some days they will be short and sweet. Let me know what you think of this one, and what you’d like to see me discuss in the comments or on Twitter. Go Bucks!