2015 UNL graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

COVID-19 is altering daily life for people across the globe. Many schools closed, people suddenly became unemployed, others have fallen ill, and everyone is dealing with the impacts in different ways.

Christopher Aumueller, the founder of FanWord, a storytelling and creative agency for sports teams and brands based out of Lincoln, Neb., said business is drastically slower than just months ago.

“We’re a small business operating in sports.” Aumueller said. “A lot of our clients are losing a lot of money right now, during this time, which makes them cautious about spending any money. There’s value in what we do with keeping fans engaged, but at the same time, when budgets get cut, it’s just not a priority.”

FanWord’s list of clients includes the University of Alabama, Southern Methodist University, Liberty University and many more Division I schools. During this time of drastic cutbacks, Aumueller said his company is turning it into an opportunity.

“It’s a lot about building relationships right now,” he said, “Figuring out ways to help rather than being purely money-driven. There are two ways you could go right now: either sit back and not doing anything and wait until things get back to normal, or be proactive about it and be there for your customers, showing you care.”

Not only is this impacting work across the country, but also school. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of several universities to announce this year’s graduation ceremony will be held virtually, meaning seniors won’t have the chance to walk across the stage at Pinnacle Bank Arena in front of friends and family after years of hard work. UNL senior Brad Frandsen said it’s tough on any senior to go through this.

“It’s definitely difficult. Graduation is something every senior looks forward to, and now our class won’t really experience it,” Frandsen says.

Frandsen, a Sports Media and Communication major, is also worried about finding a job this summer among the madness.

“I missed out one some work I had lined up for AAU basketball, and I’m not sure what this means for searching for a job after graduation,” he said.

Just like Frandsen, coronavirus disrupted the University of Nebraska Omaha senior Ben Helwig’s last semester. After spending the last three years calling several sporting events for the Mavericks, including the men’s basketball team’s run in the Summit League conference championship in 2019, which fell just short of making the NCAA Tournament.

“Not calling sports anymore sucks, it really does. It looks like the coronavirus will have an impact on my summer internship. If that winds up getting canceled, then it may impact my ability to find a job in the future,” Helwig said of his pending summer internship with the Willmar Stingers baseball team in Willmar, Minn. as a play-by-play announcer. Despite possibly missing out on this opportunity, Helwig happily offered advice to everyone during these times.

“Reach out. Reach out to your friends and family. Check-in on those you care about,” he said. “We need to make sure we don’t lose touch with people during this time.”

Aumueller provided a similar piece of advice, noting that “physical distancing” is more accurate “social distancing.”

“There’s no need for us to distance ourselves socially; if anything, it’s the complete opposite,” Aumueller said. “I feel like people long for social interaction right now, more so than before. Out of that comes a lot of fantastic conversations and interactions. This isn’t about you or me, this is about people we come in contact with and not being a risk to others.”

When the time comes to essentially re-build both the country and economy, Aumueller said he’d rather than be safe than sorry.

“Listen to the experts in this. Don’t try to be your own expert and think you know better than anyone else. Just because you aren’t sick doesn’t mean you don’t pose a risk to others. In six months, 12 months, whenever, I’d rather look back and say we’ve done a little too much rather than look back and think about how we didn’t do enough.”

Without sports as an outlet or a stress reliever, it has opened the eyes of several in the sports media world on how to be responsible in a time like this while hoping sports can make a return soon.

“It’s horrible without sports,” Frandsen said. “It’s pretty much taken away all of my hobbies between going to the rec to play basketball and watching just about any sport I could find on TV.”

I am a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am majoring in Sports Media and Communication with a minor in Economics. I have a 5-year old Basset Hound/Labrador mix named Koda. Once I graduate I hope to become a sports writer.