THE Covid-19 pandemic has taught the sporting world to become innovative and evolve into what could possibly be the “near future”.
Until a vaccine is found that is…
Inside of a few months, since China sent out alarm bells last December, the coronavirus is threatening to clear the shelves of routines practised by sportsmen since the time of the Roman gladiators.
Now, empty stadiums, pitches, tracks, gyms, parks and roads have become a norm as countries worldwide enforce movement restrictions or call it “circuit breakers” to contain the virus.
Suddenly, athletes, from Olympians to five year olds, are training indoors. And they can no longer hit, kick, or slap a ball outdoors.
A ball, the centre of attention of every sport unless one counts board games, has suddenly become the new four-letter word.
In Malaysia, some who went jogging at the now-famous Mount Kiara affluent roads, played football in Penang, played badminton in a hall in Shah Alam, or had morning walks, suddenly found themselves in police lock-ups before being paraded in front of a magistrate.
Some had to serve days behind bars as they could not pay their fines.
Same script for some fellows who went fishing, and a crowd who went nasi lemak hunting at 2am.
The innovative sportsmen were smarter. They started training at home by continuing their routines in living rooms or kitchens, and then uploading them on social media to encourage and motivate others.
The first such local athlete video that this scribe saw was by the now-retired squash player Nicol David.
And after almost three weeks, social media is now flooded with innovative videos which teach one to use a small space to get a maximum workout.
Malaysian coaches and athletes, by the look of it, are also not camera shy to show their skills to the world.
Coaches around the globe have started training their athletes online, just like schools and colleges have started online tutoring.
A field is no longer needed, just dedication at home in a small or cramped living quarters shared with family members and the family pet.
All the sportsmen, from EPL millionaires to Olympian wannabes to your friendly neighbourhood joggers, are keeping themselves in shape at home while waiting for a vaccine to be developed by scientists who are also exercising their grey matter to the maximum daily.
If and when a vaccine is found, life might turn back to normal, and fields and parks will be packed again, but the memories of being innovative and training at home will remain forever, even if it is only practised next during a rainy or snowy MCO period.
But one thing is for certain, the handshake is doomed for good.
According to some historians, the handshake dates back to the fifth century BC in Greece. It was a symbol of peace, showing that neither person was carrying a weapon. The deadly invisible enemy is now hiding in empty palms.