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GARY SMITH: Driven to distraction

Crazy times make the details a little fuzzy by Gary Smith | February 5, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

I'm told the Super Bowl is this weekend.

As I understand it, thanks to stringent crowd limits, it will be held in front of literally hundreds of people in Tampa Bay. And the Kansas City Chief Clever Insurance Ad Stars and the Tampa Bay Tom Brady's will be involved. And we will in fact be tracking actual scores and not just COVID cases that result from the game and ancillary Super Bowl parties.

The fact that I have to be told this and that I don't know it the way a bird knows it's time to fly south or your dog knows, from the other side of the house, that you'd dropped some bacon, is an indication that there is something very wrong with the world.

I have also been informed pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks. And that Alabama won the college football championship. And that NCAA basketball is currently being played, at least between teams who have enough players available to put five on the court.

I do know the PGA season continues, but since people will always find some place to play golf, I would have guessed that even if I didn't have proof. I understand the NHL is also in full swing, but I'm convinced they never quit playing hockey; they just quit talking about it for a bit.

This, for me, is not normal. The sort of "not normal" that typically has family members concerned ("Dad's not acting like himself. Oklahoma just lost a football game and he didn't go out in the yard and burn the clothes he was wearing because they had 'bad juju!'").

But, I'm afraid this is where I am right now. There and, you know, locked in the house upstairs in my "office" trying to remember how many consecutive days I've worn these sweatpants ... that don't even have some team logo on them.

I'd like to chalk all this up to the general forgetfulness I'm fairly prone to (a note: "Why did I pick up my phone?" is the new "Why did I come into this room?"). It's sort of like, "Oh, Christmas/Mother's Day/our anniversary/your birthday is THIS week? I mean, I knew that, but ..."

I'm afraid, at least in the short run, general forgetfulness might not be the case. It's not that I forgot. It's not that I don't care. It's just that, with everything going in the world ... it just didn't even register.

Sort of like when you're driving home from work (you do remember driving to and from work, right?) and your body is going through the motions of navigating on the interstate. But your mind is on that report or that meeting or whether it's tacos (is it Tuesday already?) or burgers tonight or just what the lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven" are (the answer: Fill in your own. The actual lyrics really don't make any sense, anyway).

And you suddenly realize you're in your driveway. And you better sort out that "tacos vs. burgers" thing pretty quickly.

Things, important things (and perhaps not so important), have happened and you didn't even notice because your mind was elsewhere.

Well, when it comes to sports or virtually anything else these days, my mind is elsewhere.

Of course it doesn't help that "elsewhere" keeps intruding on sports. Every day we hear Player A is out with a knee injury and Player B is suffering back spasms and Player C got exposed to covid through his food delivery driver. Or that the 2020 Olympics will be played in 2021 unless the case count in Japan doesn't come down, at which time they may just wait till 2024 and give out two sets of medals for the winners.

And it doesn't help that elections, which used to be a sport for political nerds, have now because an existential battle for the very soul of a nation (or something like that) and the ultimate showdown between good and evil, a status that, in my family, used to be reserved for the OU-Texas game.

Now, I am promised this will not always be the case. That I'll hear "line" and think of a center, two guards and two tackles, not what I'll have to get in to receive the vaccine. And that the daily scoreboard will reflect things like, oh, I don't know, scores. Instead of much more sinister numbers.

I feel like this will happen. I pray this will happen. I'm convinced this will happen. But until then ... it's not that I don't care. It's that I just can't.

Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.

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