Hey, 2020: Good riddance!

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We’re just a couple days away from this miserable year coming to an end and a fresh start with 2021.

When I look back at 2020, where do I begin? I guess at the beginning.

I should have known we were in for a rough ride when former NBA commissioner David Stern and pitcher Don Larsen, the only person to throw a perfect game in the World Series, died on New Year’s Day. And when Kobe Bryant was taken from us in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, it cemented my fear this was not going to be a fun year.

There have been so many deaths in 2020, I don’t have the space to list them all. But we have people die every year. We deal with all sorts of chaos in our lives. But it seemed like every day someone we knew or was a person of celebrity (or notoriety) had died.

Then came March.

We were introduced to something called the novel coronavirus. It started with one person in a Washington state nursing home contracting it. As the year comes to a close, more than 19 million Americans had tested positive for what we call COVID-19 and more than 350,000 Americans have died as a result of a full-blown pandemic that continues to rage throughout the country, and the world for that matter.

Businesses across America shut down. Some never reopened. Tens of millions became unemployed. Economies in thousands of cities tanked, especially here in Las Vegas, where the casinos turned out their lights for 78 days.

It was an uncertain and scary time for all of us. We weren’t sure Gaming Today would survive. After all, we need the casinos to advertise and to take the paper to distribute in their sportsbooks. What chance did we have to stay afloat?

Fortunately, we had a guardian angel in Bill Paulos, GT’s owner. He refused to succumb to the economic tsunami that was engulfing our local economy. We kept going in digital from and our production staff, working from home, produced a small but news-filled issue.

Frankly, I’m still not sure how we managed to pull it off. No sports to write about. No casinos to cover. Virtually no advertising. Yet, thanks to our writers and our production staff, we never missed a beat.

Things are still jittery in the sports and casino world. The NFL and college football are limping to the finish line. The NBA has its fingers crossed it will be able to enjoy a shortened season outside of a bubble. The NHL drops the puck in a couple of weeks with the same hopes. And college basketball, while a mess, has its sights set on having a better March in 2021 than it did in 2020 when everything got shut down, including the NCAA Tournament.

We should be optimistic for a number of reasons. First, there’s a workable vaccine to combat the coronavirus. By late spring, most of us should be inoculated. Second, we’ve learned so much about dealing with COVID-19, we’ve adjusted our lifestyle. We wear a mask when we go out. We socially distance. We wash our hands regularly. We may not like it, but we do it to minimize putting ourselves and others at risk.

Most of all, it’s hard to imagine 2021 being worse than 2020. And while I’m hopeful, I’m also a realist. We remain a divided nation politically. We are still uncomfortable confronting racism in this country. Many are worried about keeping a roof over their heads or where their next meal is coming from. You watch the long lines of cars waiting to receive help from food banks across America and it breaks your heart. You ask yourself, “How can this happen here?” But it’s very real and our issues aren’t going to disappear overnight.

Which is why it may be a while before we see better days. It’s going to take some time for the residual despair of 2020 to be erased in 2021. But I truly believe that when I sit down to write this column a year from now, I’ll have better news to report.

It has been a tough year for sure. Personally, I lost a relative to the coronavirus back in September. Other members of my family are going through tough times health-wise. Friends have had their challenges, both economically as well as medically and they’ve lost loved ones, be they humans or pets in 2020.

I’ve left Nevada twice — both times driving to California. I haven’t been on a plane since March 5. Hopefully, that will change in the coming months.

Our family plans to welcome two new additions, one in March, the other in May as my nephews become dads, one for the first time, the other for the second. So, we’re excited about that.

I looked at the 2021 baseball schedule. Maybe I will get to Yankee Stadium this summer. Hopefully, I can visit with friends who I haven’t seen in a couple of years. Maybe I’ll be able to go to Saratoga and Del Mar and spend a summer’s day at the track.

Perhaps the border between the U.S. and Canada will reopen and I can go to Vancouver for a weekend. Or take that long-awaited train ride through the Canadian Rockies.

Maybe there’ll be a tour and I can go see Springsteen somewhere, Europe perhaps? Or for that matter, see a show or concert on the Las Vegas Strip from another performer.

I’m hoping those who have been out of work or had to close their businesses can return to gainful employment and get back on their feet.

There’s a lot to be optimistic and hopeful about. The economy should get better and perhaps we will regain some of our advertisers or develop new ones and more sportsbooks take GT again. We’ll look to improve our product and continue to deliver quality reading week after week.

So, here’s to a Happy New Year for 2021. Thanks to all of you for sticking with us and patronizing us with your subscriptions and advertising. On behalf of our owner and our entire staff we are eternally grateful.

As for 2020, good riddance! You won’t be missed  at all.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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