Where were you? What were you doing? Do you remember? These are questions that have already started coming up in conversations since the sports world was rocked and came to a screeching halt Thursday.
As the Tigers were getting ready for their ACC Tournament game with the #1 seed Florida State Seminoles, the ACC Commissioner announced that the tournament was being canceled and FSU was awarded the 2019-20 conference crown due to the concerns for the athletes health.
Many Clemson fans have been discussing the precedents that were set into motion over the last few days as the NCAA was preparing for one of the biggest events on their sports calendar. Clemson found out on Wednesday that their game vs FSU would be with no fans in the coliseum due to the Corona Virus, which was already unheard of but nothing could prepare them or fans for what was to come on Thursday.
Thursday’s no fan policy turned into the ACC Tournament being completely canceled as other conferences were doing the same. This has now turned into all athletic events across the country being canceled, or suspended until further notice.
This did mark the first time Clemson Basketball had finished a season with a win since the 1949-50 season. Aamir Simms was also the first Tiger player in history to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists in the same season. Remarkable feats, but these don’t take away the disappointment and hurt that has been experienced by this national event.
Athletic events have been a person’s escape for many things in life. I can still remember the first game the Tigers played after 9/11 and how much of a relief it was to be able to attend a game, and even though there was concern over the life event in our country, be able to escape it and cheer for a win that day.
We as a country, as Clemson and sports fans, are now entering uncharted waters. Thousands of Tiger fans already were planning their trip to Death Valley on April 4th for the annual Orange and White Spring game. It was to be the Tiger fans first opportunity to get their eyes on the new crop of freshmen stars in action.
There has also been high hopes for the Clemson Baseball team who had started the 2020 season 14-3 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. The Tigers were getting ready to head to Winston Salem for their second conference series of the season. They were on a five game winning streak after a dramatic walk off win over a good Winthrop team.
You have seniors who’s careers are over without a chance to go out on their own terms. Like William Nottingham, whose Clemson golf career ended so short. Little did he know that his 3rd place finish and career best 203 at Palmetto on Tuesday would be his final college tournament. He closed his career with a final round 65. That tied Mark Swygert’s record for a low round by a Tiger in their final career round.
There are many stories like this that will have Clemson fans and athletes asking “what if” questions for years to come. As the dust settles from the news of cancellations of all winter and spring sports by the NCAA, Tiger fans questions now begin to turn to “How long?” and “What about football season?”.
Are Clemson athletics our life? No. What’s next? Not a person on earth has that answer at this point. Can Tiger fans survive without them? Yes, they should be able to. If not, then that fan may need to look a little closer at themselves, but at the same time it is really rough because the solace has been ripped away, and exactly when most would say it is needed most.