There is a massive wildfire burning about 50 miles outside Eugene. At one point today that city had the worst air quality in the world.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 10, 2020
Pre-COVID, this Saturday was supposed to be the big Ohio State-Oregon game. Turns out, it likely would have been canceled regardless. pic.twitter.com/KpYXa7tWxq
The beatings will continue, until morale improves. If you want to describe 2020, that’s probably the best way to do it. A global pandemic, the continued mistreatment of people of color, fire tornados, hurricanes, and plenty of other awful events have gone on in the first nine months of the year.
Just how doomed has this year been? If there was no COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio State would be scheduled to play Oregon in Eugene on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes likely wouldn’t be making the trip out west because of devastating fires in Oregon. There is no chance Ohio State would subject their student-athletes to traveling out to a state that is seeing many wildfires burning throughout the state.
Even though I grew up near Buffalo in New York, and currently live in Columbus, what is going on out in Oregon right now hits home to me. Pre-pandemic, a friend and I were planning a trip out to Oregon to visit friends in Portland, and then head down to Eugene for the game. We abandoned those plans in the spring when it looked like even if the Buckeyes and Ducks would play, there was no chance fans would be in attendance.
Had the world never been introduced to COVID-19, Zak and I would have likely been scheduled to fly out to Portland either yesterday or today. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to wait so long for the trip and the game only to see the trip scrapped just before it began. Obviously the safest decision would be to stay in Columbus, but it would be like being punched in the gut repeatedly. At least the pandemic allowed for some time to come to grips with the loss of the trip.
Now instead of preparing to watch the Buckeyes take on the Ducks, like I had been when 2020 began, I’m having to keep tabs on family from thousands of miles away. My dad and uncle live in Medford, which is a little less than three hours south of Eugene. My cousin also moved out to Corvallis in the last couple months, as he is a graduate student at Oregon State. Right now he is with my dad and uncle in Medford, which I’m happy about since in these tough times at least the three are together to do what they can to stay as safe as possible.
Currently in the area in Medford where they live, they are under a “be ready” evacuation order, meaning they could be told to evacuate at any time. Yesterday for a couple hours they actually did have to evacuate when a small fire started up not too far away. Thankfully the fire was contained rather quickly and they were able to go back home, but it just shows how quickly things can change when it comes to wildfires.
Whether it be Medford, Eugene, San Francisco, or anywhere else on the west coast that is dealing with fires right now, the images are heartbreaking. When looking at some of the photos, it looks like what I’d expect living on Mars or in a post-apocalyptic world to look like. The images get even heavier when considering people are losing their homes and everything they own, and some are even losing their lives.
Going back to Stewart Mandel’s tweet, I took a dive into the mentions (I know, big mistake). Some are saying he is “rooting against football” and fear-mongering. Of course these are all ridiculous claims. He is just stating facts of what would be going on had there not been a pandemic gripping this country right now. I tweeted something along those lines around seven hours earlier.
Even if there wasn’t a pandemic and the B1G and Pac-12 were playing this weekend, we might not have seen Ohio State & Oregon play https://t.co/JEzWzTSx2j— Brett (@BLeez17) September 9, 2020
As with the pandemic, these tweets about the fires out west don’t have some evil agenda. We are trying to bring some attention to some tragic events out there. I wish there was more I could do to help, but right now all I can do is keep track of what is going on out there and pray for the best for everyone.
Just remember, we are all suffering right now. Whether it be from the pandemic, fires, cancer, racism, destruction from Hurricane Laura, or countless other issues right now. Be kind to each other and be there for your fellow humans when possible. I know I haven’t followed my own advice as much as I should have in the past, but I know I’m going to do my best to do so now. Times are insanely tough and all we have is each other. Together we will make it.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.