I played basketball for a lot of my life.

There were arenas full of people and there were stands that were so empty you could hear a pin drop during a free throw.

Playing in front of an electric crowd is an unmatched experience.

People in the stands are living each moment as you leave it all on the court.

When there’s nobody in the stands, the game atmosphere is quite lack-luster.

It feels more like a business transaction than a game.

That’s what makes it fun, right?

The game part?

As the sports world begins to figure out how they’re going to make a season happen, I have found myself thinking about what it would be like without fans in the stands.

Sure, a game is still going to happen.

When the YMCA tee-ball and softball players take the field, there will be fans there, just not in the same way they were in previous seasons.

Social distancing is the norm now, and in order to stay safe, there will be no fans in the stands.

Instead, they will be in lawn chairs down the baselines and adhering to safety guidelines to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy.

I’m thankful there are conversations happening to get things moving forward.

That’s what we all need right now - to keep moving forward.

The other side of the coin is that in order to continue to move forward, we have to continue to adhere to those guidelines set out by the CDC.

And yes, I realize they change - a lot.

It’s difficult to continue to always stay on top of it.

But we have a baseline of what we should do - what has always been suggested.

Maintain six feet of space, wear a mask, don’t go out if you’re feeling symptoms.

It seems pretty simple to me, even if it is a little over the top.

Here’s my take on things, though.

After the dust settles from all of this, I would rather look back and say, “gosh, we really overreacted to that thing,” instead of “man, I wish we would have done more.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the things that are fun and just slide in for a hug, but my friends now is the time to stand just a bit stronger.

Stand strong - together - but apart - and don’t let this darn thing take another shot at us.

We have the ability to do this, and we can do it with kindness and care for one another.

Playing in front of empty stands is what’s going to happen - for now.

It’s a disheartening thing for a player to experience.

So if we can just stay the course, those stands won’t be so empty for much longer than necessary.

Contact Rebecca Steward at rebecca@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.536.6499