I miss sports.
Now in this world of COVID-19 – with the resulting loss of jobs, the death of thousands, the infection of millions, the shutting in of hundreds of millions, and the potential downfall of our economic system as we know it – the loss of watching grown men on the playing field seems a little on the trivial side, and it is.
And if truth be told, I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would.
Even though this month – with what should be the NHL playoffs, the beginning of Major League Baseball, the Masters, the potential repeat of the Raptors championship drive – is usually a sports fan’s nirvana, the fact that we’re living through what sometimes too closely resembles the apocalypse kind of puts spectator sports in its place.
Now superstar athletes rank somewhere well below sanitation workers and grocery clerks in scale of importance to our health and well-being. And they can’t even be mentioned in the same breath as health-care workers.
I think it was Karl Marx who once said religion is the “opiate of the masses,” but today he’d probably say it was sports that could allow him to run the country however he liked while everyone else was tuned into the NBA final or NFL draft.
However, although mere weeks ago, I was very excited about the Canucks possibly making the NHL playoffs and maybe even winning a round or two, now I don’t really care if there is a Stanley Cup winner this year — possibly because I don’t see how that could happen considering current circumstances.
One wonders how spectator sports will return to its former glory and status in society even in September, or possibly ever.
Maybe society will realize that some five-game winner with a 5.49 ERA in the MLB isn’t actually worth $40 million over five seasons, with bonuses every time he goes more than five innings or actually strikes somebody out.
Nah, probably not.
In fact, I have a theory that Donald Trump and God will figure out some way to end this nonsense before the beloved NFL season begins, and Trump will release a transcript of his “perfect” conversation with the Almighty at a press conference and ride the wave all the way to re-election of His Hairness in November. Then in January, days after his inauguration, his taxes will finally be revealed and even Fox News will have to proclaim “What have we done?”
Whoa, where was I? I think I had a slight nightmare scenario there for a second.
There’s another reason why I miss sports, besides the fact that sports has the unwritten, anything is possible element to it, unlike everything on Netflix.
I’ve suddenly realized, thanks to the novel coronavirus, that when I converse with my sons, brothers or buddies, I almost always open with sports.
“Hey, the Leafs lost another one last night,” I would offer to my oldest son. “Yo, the Habs need a miracle to make the playoffs this year,” I’d tease the younger one. And so on.
Then, the conversation would go on for several minutes about sports, then maybe move on to the weather, kids, spouses, the stock market, politics and even, on the rare occasion, how we felt about this or that.
You see guys need sports, either talking about it or playing it, to be an icebreaker for most conversations, Yes, poker would suffice, but not many card games can be played with participants at six-foot intervals.
So we’re a little s…s….s….stuck.
Sure, we could start with how it is living with our wives 24-7, but most of us don’t wanna go there. We’re living it.
The sports channels are trying. They’re running old-time classic baseball and hockey games, but it feels a little desperate somehow and too much like Netflix, you know how it all turns out. You can only talk about how much hockey equipment and rules have changed for so long.
So, in the meantime, let’s hope sports does come back in some fashion before we start betting on ant hill races.
And chatting about it with our bros.
Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of the Morning Star.