It's said one of the side benefits of the lockdown we have been under since early-to-mid March is many have had the opportunity to binge-watch television programs, read or take up new hobbies The flip side, however, is that sports, a staple for many of us, ground to a complete halt.
Racing seasons were hours from getting underway when the rug was pulled out. Baseball was just a couple of weeks from opening day, and soccer in the U.S. had just begun its season, while European counterparts were entering the stretch run. Hockey and Basketball were closing in on playoffs.
And suddenly, nothing.
I know there is a line of thought that sports are trivial matters, not worth the pain many of us feel at their loss. For some, that might be true, but for this washed up old sportswriter, there is a large, sports-sized hole in my life.
I’m not big on watching replays unless they are old Philly games, and since I no longer live in the Delaware Valley, I don’t get a steady diet like my friends back home.
Thus, you probably couldn’t imagine my joy when I happened on a live Aussie Rules Football match a few weeks back, and I’m itching to watch some of that Korean baseball.
Just last weekend, NASCAR held its first race, there was a golf skins match and Germany’s Bundesliga got back into action. It is admittedly strange to see these events go off without a crowd in the stands, I never realized the role the fans played in a broadcast until they aren’t there, but I certainly appreciated seeing everyone back in action.
There are those who would argue sports just aren’t worth the risk. I would disagree. The simple fact is, this is the way life is likely to be for a while, until either herd immunity or a vaccine can put this virus in check. If we are to achieve something resembling a “new normal,” sports need to be part of that equation.
Beyond being a hefty slice of the economy, sports provide entertainment and distraction from the difficulties we face. Even in the darkest hours, sports offer hope and joy. If they can be held safely, we all benefit.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew this. When pressed in 1942 by baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis about whether the game should be suspended for the duration of the Second World War, FDR advised the game should go on, because of the many people it employed and the good will it provided.
As this situation continues, the patience of the population wears thin. I’m certain many of us have experienced that already. The resumption of sports can play a role in easing those tensions by returning us to some level of normalcy. I, for one, much rather have people arguing over old sports rivalries than some of the alternatives.
As spring has worn on, the thought that I won’t be able to sit out on a warm summer night, munching a hot dog and sipping a beer while the “boys of summer” take the field is a real letdown. If baseball, and other sports, can come up with a workable solution to play, having sports on TV would go a long way to lifting my spirits.
I can’t imagine I’m the only one.