GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's the time of the year where we would be watching March Madness or getting ready for the start of the baseball season but for the moment, sports are gone and for many, it is not an easy thing to accept.

As a trained sports psychologist, Dr. Eddie O'Connor understands why the pain is all too real for fans and athletes. 

"It's very much like an athletic injury can cause a sudden disruption,” he explains. “Sometimes even to the level of a death of a loved one.”

That may sound a bit extreme to non-sports fans, but in Dr. O'Connor's opinion, this is a devastating time for those that play and follow the games.

“Sports is obviously ingrained in our culture and for many of us in our identities,” he says.

Since the pandemic began, Dr. O'Connor has seen a rise in business and he expects more the longer it goes on.

He's telling clients to use their competitive fire to power through these uncertain times.

"Where can you still be an athlete?” He asks them. “The ability to plan and set goals, overcoming adversity, and using this crisis as an opportunity to develop their mental toughness.”

It's a challenge, but now is not the time to forfeit. 

"I'm not saying [therapy is] easy and this is a way to fix it. We're not fixing it," said Dr. O'Connor. "But what we're doing is—we're buckling down, we're being tough, we're being proactive."

And as for the fans, well, there’s hope too.

“It will be over at some point and they can go back to competition,” O'Connor said.

When that day comes, we'll all feel like winners.

More sports stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE: 

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.   

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.