As sports fans, and those of us who make our living covering athletics, we are all in uncharted territory. As this week unfolded and concerns regarding the threat of the coronavirus overtook every other news story across the nation, we were reminded just how insignificant sports can be in the grand scheme of daily life.

It became more and more surreal from late Wednesday to Friday as, one by one, sporting events from the professional and collegiate levels all the way to high school were affected and eventually came to a screeching halt.

As one local veteran coach said Friday, "None of us know what to do right now. 9/11 was horrible, but after that first week sports was what we used to begin healing and getting over it. Sports was our return to normalcy."

With sports at every level affected, the return to normalcy is likely still at least several weeks away. And rightfully so.

Whether it was the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, the NBA and NHL seasons, professional golf — including the Masters — and even prep basketball state tournaments and spring sports, almost any and all athletics have been put on hold as we focus on keeping our friends and loved ones, and ourselves, safe and healthy.

Until medical experts tell us the threat has decreased to the point that we're safe to return to our routines, sports must take a back seat to real-life concerns.

With that in mind, and because of the limited amount of content to provide without games happening, the Times Free Press will be altering our sports coverage in the coming weeks. Beginning Monday, our sports coverage will be condensed into other sections of the newspaper. On Sundays and Mondays, readers can find sports coverage in the Region (B) section. Every other day, Sports will be combined with our Business section.

Our staff of veteran sports writers will continue to work to find feature angles on local sports figures and issues, and we will include national stories as they happen as well.

Once the health threat begins to subside, and athletes and teams return to the field, our section will expand back to its normal size and our staff will once again be at those games to bring readers the in-depth coverage that has made us an award-winning section for many years.

As the sports editor, I am always open to input and suggestions from our subscribers and readers, so feel free to contact me or anyone in our department with your thoughts. We're all in this together, trying to make the best of the uncertainty we're facing while also looking forward to the day when the return of the athletes and games we love to watch marks the signal that we're all returning to normalcy.

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Times Free Press sports editor Stephen Hargis

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.