After months of catching up on college football from 30 years ago, there’s something new and exciting being broadcast across the airwaves.
Sports is back. And how sweet it is.
They aren’t back like they were before, but that was never a realistic expectation. It might be a long time, or never, before life looks exactly as it did before. Such is the power of COVID.
But what we have is real and is here with us, every single day. It brings to mind that old saying about a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.
Let’s start with baseball. It’s entirely underway with a sixty-game regular season having begun about a week ago. Teams are travelling about the country, warming up, putting on uniforms, and competing against one another in games that get instantly etched into the permanent record.
Pitches are flying and bases are being stolen. Don’t mind the fake fans behind home plate. If you stare at them long enough without blinking, they might just start moving. And sure the outfield stands are empty, but MLB has done a nice job of piping in fan noise to make the players and television audience feel some semblance of normalcy.
The big thing that shouldn’t be ignored is the fact that one team, the Miami Marlins, has become overrun with positive infections and has had to temporarily shut their season down, along with the last opponent they played, the Philadelphia Phillies, who have also been placed under temporary quarantine.
It doesn’t help that the Marlins are from South Florida, one of the country’s most concentrated hot spots for viral spread. It also doesn’t help that rumors and anecdotal accounts are swirling with stories of poor hygiene practices not just by the Marlins but by players on other teams.
Let’s hope this is the wakeup call every club needs. Vigilance is the order of the day. For fans, all we can do is enjoy it while it lasts.
Soccer is also under full swing with the MLS is Back tournament. The Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps have both already been knocked out, but no matter. The Portland Timbers are still alive and will play in a quarter-final match on Saturday night.
Last but not least, the NBA has been playing exhibition games for about a week and is kicking off regular play this weekend. They’ve sequestered 22 teams in a giant bubble in Orlando that could last right through the Finals this fall.
From all of these leagues, the “product on the screen” has been surprisingly good. Sure there are no fans, at least not sentient ones, but the camera angles gloss over that fairly successfully. Players seem every bit as engaged as they would have been in a normal year. Given what we’ve been through, it’s more than good enough.
Where does that leave us as fans?
Not unlike how it feels to break in a new and exciting lover. You know it may not last, but you don’t really care. Don’t ask too many questions or look too far ahead into the future, and you should be just fine. It’s good enough for today, and sometimes that right there is more than enough.