I will spare the flowery talk about how sports has always served as a welcoming distraction for us in troubling times as in the aftermath of 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy, which was de rigueur for every sports columnist and talk show radio host in the country last Friday. What many of them failed to mention about the disappearance of sporting contests in light of the COVID-19 crisis was that practically every cultural institution was being curtailed because of public safety concerns.

The speed at which life dramatically changed was jaw-dropping. Last Tuesday, the Ivy League announced it was canceling the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. My initial reaction was that the schools were overreacting with caution for a problem that had not materialized. It turns out that the Ivy League has both smart players and administrators as they were ahead of the curve as the floodgates would open two days later.

St. John’s University was a borderline candidate to have made the NCAA Tournament but it turns out the Red Storm, along with the Creighton Bluejays, were the last teams to play hoops before nearly the entire sports world was either postponed or canceled last Thursday.

The Red Storm and the Blue Jays played a solid first-half of basketball. Even though fans were not allowed to attend it wasn’t a funereal atmosphere by any means as friends and families of the players cheered their lungs out. Both teams had their bands and cheerleaders performing during timeouts. If it’s any consolation to fans of the Johnnies, they were leading top-seeded Creighton at the half 38-35 before the order to shut things down arrived.

You have to feel for the college basketball players who won’t have the chance to participate in March Madness. Few spoke about the frustrations of fans of out-of-town schools who traveled to New York for the Big East Tournament at MSG or the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Barclays Center and who had to turn back as soon as they got here.

Professional spring football continued its string of bad luck. Last year, the Alliance for American Football went out of business for financial reasons after eight weeks. Last Thursday, the revived XFL was forced to end its season after five weeks because of COVID-19.

Although TV ratings and live attendance were so-so, the quality of play was better than expected. XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said the league would return in 2021 and players would be paid for the rest of the 2020 season.

There will be no live studio shows on SNY. Enjoy lots of “Mets Classics.”

See the extended version of Sports Beat every week here at only qchron.com.

Life and style

In what now appears to have been one of the last vestiges of normalcy in New York City, the annual International Restaurant & Foodservice Show took place at Javits Center from March 8 through March 10.

Ecological sustainability has become a big buzz phrase in recent years and especially now in light of the March 1 ban on the use of single-use plastic bags by retail stores. In that vein, a representative from FC Meyer Packaging exhibited the compost receptacle that will be used by food vendors at Citi Field this season (whenever it does start), and it does feature the Mets’ NY insignia.

The trade show featured a pair of beverage startups, Recoup and Refix, whose products purport to relieve muscle soreness, improve circulation and reduce inflammation, touting their elixirs. Recoup (recoupbeverage.com) uses organic ginger juice while Refix (refixyourself.com) uses seawater from the north of Spain along with lemon juice.

Poland’s Royal Apple Juice Company (royalapplejuice.com) is hoping to get a foothold in the American market with its various apple blends with other fruits. A representative from the company told me that Eastern European apples, because they grow in colder climates, tend not to be as sugary.

One of the speakers at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show was Allison K

ave, who co-founded Butter & Scotch in Crown Heights. Butter & Scotch has one of the more unique food concepts I have ever heard of as it is both a bakery and a bar. This sounds like a fun place to visit when this COVID-19 crisis is in the rearview mirror.

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