For your consideration - Thom Barker

For your consideration - Thom Barker

When normal feels extraordinary

Thom reflects on covering minor hockey on the heels of the pandemic

I had one of the most pleasurable assignments recently than I have had in a very long time.

It was a mild sunny day, the Civic Centre parking lot was full, small birds swooped through Heritage Park as if celebrating the early spring weather, the Sum Shockin’ Good food truck was churning out burgers, poutine and Newfoundland fare and under 13 hockey players, parents and other spectators were sporting large smiles on their maskless faces and seemed to have just a little bit more spring in their steps.

Of course, a little more spring in their steps compared to what is the question that springs to my editor mind.

It could all be imaginary because it has been long time since I covered minor hockey, or much, in person for that matter.

If I am being honest, prior to arriving at the rinks on March 13, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Just another event to be covered, a day in the life of a community journalist. Snap a few picks, collect some pertinent results and move on.

I really enjoyed it, though.

It felt normal, in an extraordinary way, if that makes any sense at all.

I’m sure the normal/extraordinary feeling will linger for a while. It has been a very long and really tough two years.

My personal comfort level throughout the pandemic has been high. The first day I donned a mask was the first day it became mandatory. The last day I donned one, was the day before the order was lifted. I have carried on in much the same way I’ve always lived albeit with some minor inconveniences.

My professional comfort level, on the other hand, has been challenged.

Throughout it all, we have attempted, under the most vitriolic circumstances I have ever encountered, to present the facts in the most neutral way possible. To report without inflaming.

We have done our best, within reason, to present varied views under the crunch of staff shortages and threat.

And I have, until today, stayed out of the fray. And even now, I don’t want to get into a great debate about the past.

The final analysis for all of us, on how we navigated the unprecedented waters of COVID, is likely a long way off.

There is a lot of reflecting and learning to be done.

In the meantime, as we settle back into live events and seeing other people’s faces, let’s try to enjoy the fact we are on the other side of it.

An event like the U13 minor hockey tournament referenced earlier attracts enough people that pretty much the spectrum of opinion about the pandemic was probably represented there.

What was not represented there was the animosity, just a celebration of community.

Without actually burying our heads in the sand, let’s try to keep it that way.