For many of us, these months of lockdown and isolation have highlighted the importance of sports.


Some of us play them ourselves, some have children who participate, some follow college teams and others just watch a game on television to pass the time. Whatever the case, sports are a simple way to impose narrative on our lives and the world. Baseball and football season, basketball and hockey, the teams and players shift as the wins and losses mount.


Sports, in other words, are crucial to our lives. They matter, even if few of us play them professionally. The best athletes, coaches and teams set examples of grit, endurance and spirit that we all can emulate.


But how can sports continue now? What does it mean to restart games as a pandemic continues to surge all around us?


Different sports on different levels are taking different approaches. Major League Baseball has attempted frequent testing of players and staff but has struggled with outbreaks. The National Basketball Association has taken a different approach — creating a giant "bubble" of teams — and had greater success.


Meanwhile, colleges and high schools are figuring out how to play safely as school returns this fall.


It’s easy to avoid catching a virus. Stay away from it. But preventing spread of a new virus while competing on athletic fields or courts in games that often include physical contact? Preventing spread of a new virus when sports include dozens of trainers and support staff?


There’s a lot to be learned — by players and fans alike.


We will all have to get used to interruptions. Games will be canceled. Favorite players might have to quarantine. Some teams, if outbreaks aren’t controlled, may have to shorten or end their seasons. And while it will be easy to complain about these disruptions, we should instead welcome them. They will make it easier to resume competition later.


And we will have to learn how to watch and cheer differently, too. Fewer people will be in the audience, and those who do will likely need to be masked. NBA games are being played to empty arenas with videoconferenced fans.


Again, complaining would be easy. It’s not the same, some will say. And they’re right. But before we can return to pre-pandemic days, we have to face and accept the times we’re in. That means enjoying what athletes and their teams are willing to do for us right now.