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Thankful for the Return of Sports as a Diversion From a Challenging Year

The Cleveland Indians played their pandemic-shortened 2020 season at an empty Progressive Field.
Sean Fitzgerald
The Cleveland Indians played their pandemic-shortened 2020 season at an empty Progressive Field.

It was eight months ago when the pandemic arrived in the U.S. and brought the sports world to halt. Since then, most pro, college and high school teams have found a way to get their seasons going.

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says this Thanksgiving he's grateful that Cleveland.com readers and WKSU listeners have stuck with him during this challenging year.

"When [sports] are at their best, they're a diversion from real life. And we need listeners and the people who are reading me, because without you out there in the audience, there's no us," Pluto said.

Continuing on when the sports world paused
Pluto has been a sports writer, author and columnist for about 40 years. He's been a commentator for WKSU since 2007. When the pandemic hit back in March, there was a discussion about whether to pause his WKSU sports segments. WKSU heard from some listeners who said it provided comfort.

"The cool thing about sports is that you could name a political issue and immediately a large chunk of the audience will fall into one camp or another. But when I say, 'How do you feel about Baker Mayfield or Nick Chubb?' You could say, 'I really like the way Chubb plays.' Or, 'I have some doubts about Mayfield.' I don't think a person's voting record comes into play," Pluto said.

And he says he had to get creative about what he was writing about or talking about when the sports world was shut down and appreciated the patience his audiences showed.

"I'm glad to be in what I call the 'diversion department.'"
Terry Pluto

"Sometimes they were retrospective things of people who used to play. We did Korean baseball and college recruiting," he said.

An uncertain winter
Many winter sports remain uncertain as COVID-19 cases surge. Pluto says he's hopeful high school basketball can be played.

"Even if it's just the kids playing alone in the gym. They need to play," he said. "They got through thehigh school footballseason with most of these schools. So that's my next little crusade. You figured out to make football happen. You can figure out how to make basketball happen."

And Pluto says he's grateful to continue working and providing his audiences with that distraction from the grim statistics and partisan politics.

"There has to be some sense of regularity in life, even if you feel like when everything is turned upside down. We need a couple of routines or rituals to keep us going. And I'm glad to be in what I call the 'diversion department,'" he said.

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