It’s a different sort of Fourth. It’s a different sort of world

We're halfway through a year that may never end. We've sheltered in place. We've stopped. We've restarted. Now we're wondering if we should stop the restart.

We've reached the Fourth of July. In our city, it's a Fourth without the AJC Peachtree Road Race, rescheduled for Thanksgiving. We've seen a college football champion crowned and the Lombardi Trophy lifted by someone other than the Patriots in 2020, but that's about it. March Madness, set to finish in our city, was canceled. The NBA and NHL went dark on March 11. MLS barely got started. Baseball hasn't begun.

» FAQs: What know about AJC Peachtree postponement

The Masters, usually the first of golf's majors, is now set to be the last. The British Open will not be played. The Belmont Stakes, usually the last leg of the Triple Crown, became the first in 2020. The Kentucky Derby will be run — possibly even with fans under Churchill Downs' twin spires — the first Saturday in September. Golf's U.S. Open, a staple of Father's Day, will tee off Sept. 17. The 2020 summer Olympics will be staged in 2021. The British Open will not be played. Minor-league baseball will not be played. Wimbledon wasn't played.

There were no spring games for college football teams. The NFL's OTAs – organized team activities — were conducted via Zoom or some such platform. General managers made draft picks from their basements or rumpus rooms. The most-discussed sporting event of the past four months was a 10-part documentary tracking the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.

We’ve worked from home. We’ve lived in sweatpants and T-shirts for four months. We’ve saved a fortune on gasoline because there’s nowhere to go. We’ve scrounged for toilet paper. We’ve learned new ways to have food and foodstuffs delivered. We’ve bought/made face masks. We’ve binge-watched everything there is to binge. We’ve taken lots of walks. We’ve bought blow-up pools for the kids. We’ve tried to stay sane.

If, on March 10, someone would have told you this would be the United States on our nation’s birthday, you wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are, still unsure where we’re going. Here we are, wondering how much longer this can possibly last.

There's reason to believe our sports will return soon. Every sport has a plan. There's cause to doubt whether those plans will work. Some of us have tried Korean baseball. Some have sampled German soccer. Some have watched old basketball games by the dozens on YouTube. (Speaking for myself there, but maybe not just for myself.) We weren't sure we could live without our usual live sports, but we managed.

The ol' AJC has produced a sports section every doggone day, which — if I might speak for my esteemed colleagues — remains a source of vast wonder and immense pride. (When all this began, sports editor Chris Vivlamore put an index card on his desk at home. It bore one word: "Lists." We've done our share.) We're just starting to learn how we'll cover, or be allowed to cover, our teams when they return. We know already it'll be Zoom-intensive. In some cases, it'll be Zoom-exclusive.

I last interviewed a human being in person on March 11, the first/last night of the SEC tournament in Nashville. Anyone who covers MLB this season will not be permitted to interview a human being in person. As jarring as that might sound, it’s a function of grim reality. The pandemic hasn’t abated. There’s not yet a vaccine. Every person in this world is a potential health risk to someone else.

We’re halfway through a year that may never end. Assuming it does, it won’t be one any of us remember fondly. It will also be a year we’ll never forget. I wish I had something profound to offer, but all I’ve got is this: Hang in there, folks.