COLUMN: Finding meaning in the return of sports

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

For the last 10 months, I was dead inside.

Life without sports is rather lifeless.

When Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the consequence was no sports completely until mid-Summer. 

Now, that was awful.

Thank God the NBA went with the bubble, and the NHL soon followed. The MLB bulldozed its way through the season, and the NFL wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of completing the 2020 campaign.

Unfortunately, John Carroll University sports and the Ohio Athletic Conference were punished worst of all. It wasn’t until JCU’s Emmett Chambers and Heidelberg’s Alex Arellano met at mid-court on Jan. 22 that sports in University Heights were finally back.

At that moment, I felt the most normal I’ve felt since I rode on the bus back from Marietta with the men’s basketball team following an upset win on Feb. 27, 2020.

Two days later, I left the country for the first time, and when I returned, I came back to an entirely new world: one without sports.

So much has changed since then. The most devastating of all was losing my boss and mentor Chris Wenzler. That game last Friday felt so different without Wenzler. I am beyond thankful that his protege, Joe Ginley, has assumed his role. But we all still miss Wenzler.

It has been 11 months since I broadcasted a game. Even though I have some experience broadcasting the annual Mount Union vs. John Carroll football game that has reached over 10,000 viewers before, the stakes were different this time around.

No spectators meant parents and family members were tuning in — an added pressure that I had never felt before. Although I felt uneasy getting back into the groove, I am convinced Wenzler was guiding me along the way.

I am so happy that Ginley joined me at halftime to do a brief tribute toWenzler — that’s how Chris would’ve wanted it. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have wanted it at all, but I could not put on the headset for the first time since his passing without honoring him.

Although all I could think about during that broadcast was Wenzler, I was thrilled to finally be working a live sporting event at John Carroll again.

Over the last 3.5 years, I have invested my time covering our sports teams, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s what made the last year so tough. I essentially felt meaningless. With sports back, I have found my sense of purpose and obligation.

Before the game, Ginley told me to broadcast every game like it’s my last because you never know when it may be taken away from you. As I learned the next morning, it could potentially be taken away in an instant.

The Blue Streaks’ men’s basketball game was canceled the following night, and this weekend’s matchup against Mount Union has been scrapped too. Maybe last Friday was my last broadcast. I really hope not.

Either way, even though it isn’t perfect, I am ecstatic that the OAC is giving our student-athletes the opportunity to play and me the opportunity to cover the games. I missed the grind of JCU Sports coverage, and let me tell you, I am so happy it’s finally back.