What Lessons Will Coronavirus Isolation Teach Us?

By Tyler Palmateer The Norman Transcript, Okla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Tyler Palmateer takes a look at how some people are realizing and appreciating new, unexpected blessings during this order to stay home.

Norman

The marketer, the writer, the stock broker, the office administrator. They might not like it, but most can perform their jobs from home with no more than a computer and outlet.

The coach and the athlete? They're getting there.

Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley is normally full-go this time of year. Sunburns, windburns. Spring practice. A quarterback battle. Teeing up the spring scrimmage so that it becomes a recruiting harvest. You don't get all that done in a home office.

"Whether it's our staff meetings, whether it's meetings with our players, whether it's film study, whether it's recruiting, every waking hour is in front of a screen," Riley said. "That's just the new normal."

None of this is easy.

The coronavirus pandemic has millions adjusting to the flimsy structure of a remote job and realizing that their slippers are in fact very, very old.

Noisy cubical mates who could once only be drowned out with help from headphones are now long-lost friends.

But those are slight inconveniences. They're nothing compared to contracting the virus, or working the front line next to hospital beds. Or losing a job, or managing an at-home office while supervising four kids' distance learning.

We've never been more in need of perspective.

Former Transcript sports writer and current Tulsa World columnist Guerin Emig asked Riley a good question during this week's conference call. Are there any silver linings to gain by bunkering people indoors, away from their hectic schedules outside?

In a normal world, Riley and other Power 5 coaches sort through travel schedules that are demanding as any. Even when they're home they're not really "home." They've got millions in the bank and one night off through July.

Glancing around at OU's pro day, which was held the afternoon before the Thunder-Jazz game that set off the nationwide sports shutdown, the age demographic on the Sooners' young coaching staff was crystal clear.

They've all got young families, little shoes to tie and strollers to push. So yeah, Riley said he sees some silver linings.

"And I say that also being somebody that hasn't had somebody close to me affected yet. So I almost hesitate to use the word [silver linings], but there definitely have been," Riley said. "I think probably for all college coaches, a chance to be home a little bit more than what we've been able to, especially those of us with young children. Definitely been able to do some things that we haven't before and then I do think there will be ... maybe already starting to develop, and may further as this thing goes on, just an appreciation for things that maybe we overlooked a little bit when life was a little more normal. Just some of the simple things in life, some of the freedoms that we don't have right now."

He's right.

OU pitcher Cade Cavalli recently posted video of himself doing Romanian deadlines with a tree that had snapped at its trunk. Orioles pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez posted footage of himself playing long toss across an East Texas pond.

College athletes have traded state-of-the-art weight rooms and cold smoothies for resistance bands and protein powder. You think when they return to multi-million dollar facilities they'll appreciate them more?

That's not to say they were particularly spoiled. Aren't we all sometimes?

The American workforce can normally produce rapidly because school teachers take the load of shaping our children 10 hours a day, five days per week. When the pandemic becomes history, educators don't need extra hand or a hat tip -- they need an ovation.

Your next waiter or waitress deserves a fat tip. Not just because they deserve it, but because food at a table for 12 at Benvenuti's will taste better when we reach light at the end of the tunnel.

And won't the conversations be a little better? Look at the unemployment rate. Shouldn't your next paycheck seem a little larger?

What better time to appreciate things -- every single thing.

"I think there are a lot of really positive things that can come out of this," OU women's basketball coach Sherri Coale said. "One of the things are really that has been repeated to me from our players multiple times is, 'I'm just reconnecting with where it all started for me.' Like, on an outdoor court, at a park or in their driveway, just getting back to their roots when they fell in love with the game."

An event this size reaches corners of our lives and psyche we didn't know existed. Standing in line at the tag agency has never seemed so fun. I don't know how many 2nd Friday Art Walks I've missed since moving to Norman. At this point, I may never miss one again.

Before life gets back to normal, embrace the well-worn cliche.

Count all the blessings.

"I think like everybody you kind of take a step back and wonder, is this real? A lot of it seems like we're living in the movie. And it is real. It's unprecedented," Riley said. "... [But] I'm thankful for the things we do have and opportunities we do have. We'll just keep doing our best." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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