I have been watching the NFL draft every year since I was 8 years old. As a kid, I would get so excited to see the college players I had idolized roll up in a limousine to the red carpet.
My parent’s living room was my draft headquarters, cluttered with poster boards covered in sticky notes with the names of the best prospects.
Everything was color coordinated by position. I would pluck the names of the drafted players off the poster boards as the announcements were made on TV.
But this year there will be no red-carpet arrivals, no photos with a number-one jersey at center stage or handshakes with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 NFL draft will be held virtually.
The draft will use FaceTime and Zoom and the virtual version will be nothing but a shell of the real deal.
Instead of a handshake with Goodell or a university president, players and students will have to jump right into making their name on the field or in the corporate world to fill the void created by these virtual send-offs.
Students also get the same sort of celebration once they complete the required coursework for an undergraduate degree.
They walk across the stage in front of applauding family and friends in anticipation of shaking the university president’s hand before receiving their shiny new diploma.
However this is not a typical year, and we will not get to see a typical graduation or NFL draft.
Similarly, the grandiose experience of a college commencement ceremony will not be enjoyed by students of the 2020 class who have tirelessly worked toward earning their degree.
Graduation events nationwide have been converted to a virtual format or, in some cases, canceled or postponed.
A graduation ceremony is similar to the draft in many regards. It is a societal rite of passage and for many students, one of the most noteworthy accomplishments and biggest events they would have experienced.
It is tough to find a silver lining in this radical alteration of the draft and graduations. Many dedicated and talented people will have to miss out on what would have been a landmark event in their lives.
Maybe the lack of a real draft experience will incentivize the players to work even harder for recognition on the field.
And perhaps the absence of in-person graduations will push new graduates to contribute to the workforce at a faster pace.