Check that -- getting up each day and doing the best you can.
As a member of “The Silent Generation” and one who has lived through World Wars, Cold Wars, a polio epidemic, a presidential assassination, 9/11, recessions, Watergate, natural disasters and various stock market crashes, this feels a little bit familiar. A little, but not much. Because in all my many decades of existence I’ve never experienced anything like this Coronavirus Pandemic. Aside from the health disaster, death, fright, peril and economic Armageddon, this has wiped out my entire sports universe, a small price to pay for something that’s making a huge dent in humanity. For a guy who publishes a sports magazine, writes sportsbooks and a blog and does a daily sports show online, however, this is not good news. This time there are no sports to deflect our attention from the bad news.
It was times like these – wars, economic distress, natural disaster – that always caused guys like me in the sports-writing business to be riddled with guilt and anxiety over professional inadequacy. That’s where the term “The Toy Department” became a euphemism for sports journalism first surfaced. We were almost shamed. During Watergate and Vietnam, it made me want to alter my career path, which I eventually did.
And yet as I shuddered to even think about assessing this current possible catastrophic circumstance, the thought came to mind that what got us through all those previous disasters will get us through this one. Time, resilience of the human spirit, prayer, trusting in the good old American values of the golden rule and random acts of kindness, plus good fortune and blessings from a higher power. Just as in life, none of us knows the timing of the end, just as we did not know the time of the beginning. And so the mantra at my house is “do the best you can every day, check in on others and be thankful for every breath and every heartbeat God grants us.” Taught to me by my Depression-era mom, Margaret.
At my house we went proactive pretty quickly, deciding that every family needs to adopt a protocol with priorities. Since my wife and I are in the highest risk group -- although in reasonably good health -- but needed to err on the side of caution. So she cancelled her bridge group and said “no” to several invitations, then we did the following:
Quit attending public meetings, including church, or going inside restaurants or bars or theaters. We watched our church services online.
Ordering groceries for 2-3 weeks at Publix through the delivery service Instacart.
Ordered what household goods we needed from Amazon.
Went out for the mail, etc., wearing our “outdoor” shoes left by the door and switched to a pair of new slippers when returning.
Asked friends and relatives not to visit, except on rare occasions, keeping proper social distance from grandchildren, son and daughter. (Non-hugging was one of the toughest protocols)
And, of course, rearranging daily activities. I began reading books again -- when we are not watching one of the bazillion movies and TV shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hallmark and Lifetime.
I could go on, but it’s probably not unlike most of what you’ve been doing. And we’re in it for the long haul.
Now, this work thing. I’m lucky that I can do almost 100% of it at home. GatorBait Magazine will continue publishing regularly, although in a little bit of a different format. You’ll still get the writings of myself, Kassidy Hill, Franz Beard and Ainslie Lee, perhaps in a more compact form for a while.
I continue to stream my show at my home studio Monday-Thursday at 9 p.m. on Facebook Live The Buddy Martin Show. Some nights it’s more personal than others. It’s tough to talk all sports when there are none. But it began to remind me of my days as a cub sportswriter when there weren’t any major sports to cover, although covering high schools was pretty “major” for a 20-something journalist.
All we have is our past, present and future. But we don’t know the future. And there really isn’t any “present” for sporting events. So I made a decision. We are and going to delve into the past of Gator sports in a big way.
Our GatorBait team came up with the idea to feature an extensive historical research project we are calling Florida Gator Flashback: Football by the Decade. We are planning to kick off
it off next week with features, historical articles, interviews with key figures of that decade, some reprints of stories and comments by the so-called experts about what stands out today from that particular era.
Kassidy kicks off three weeks of “The Teen Years,” 2010-2019 next week. Then we will feature this lineup with these writers to follow.
2010-2020 — Kassidy Hill
2000-2009 — Franz Beard and Buddy Martin
1990-1999 — Franz Beard and Buddy Martin
1980-1989 — Franz Beard and Kassidy Hill
1970-1979 —Kassidy Hill and Ainslie Lee
1960-1969 -- Buddy Martin and Ainslie Lee.
This is an ongoing task and one which we’d like you to help us on, so we welcome your input. Please send your comments, questions and suggestions to GatorBaitEditor@gmail.com. (We will probably not reply, but it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate it.) Some of you have already posted on our show site or emailed us your favorite era, players, etc.
Stay safe out there. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family.
Meanwhile, I don’t want to sound Pollyannaish about the current crisis because I take it uber-serious. I would like to leave you with this quote from former Homeland Security official Tom Bossert: “If we work together, this terrible moment could be our finest hour.” Maybe that’s what Charles Dickens meant when he wrote: “It was the best of times and the worst of times.”
At this writing, “An Evening With Terry Bradshaw” scheduled for April 8 at the Reilly Arts Center in Ocala has been postponed and will be rescheduled in the near future. “I’m coming to Ocala, I just don’t know when yet,” said the Fox NFL Sunday cohost and four-time Super Bowl winner. “Hang in there folks.” For more information call the Reilly at 352-351-1606.
A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER
As Charles Dickens wrote, “It is the best of times and the worst of times.” Prayers to all of you and your families during the Coronavirus Pandemic. We here at GatorBaitMedia.com and Facebook.com/The Buddy Martin Show will continue with our magazine, live streaming show and website and invite you to join us as we unite with community spirit and navigate these perilous weeks and months ahead. If you need information about what we do, write me at GatorBaitEditor@gmail.com. May God bless and protect you.