Sean Beckwith: Thirsting over sports
Waiting for life to return to normal feels like I’m 20 years old again, eagerly anticipating that day when a universe that I know exists but can’t access opens. Until then, though, it’s just a bunch of drinking at home or friends’ places.
At this point, I’m sucking down any aspect of normalcy like it’s an illegally purchased 30 rack of Keystone Lights. Even something as awful as a wildfire is a reminder that, although the universe is seemingly revolving around this pandemic, CORONAVIRUS will dissipate and there will be other large issues to worry about, like Trail Blazer playoff games.
Getting meaningful sports back is my fake ID, my oasis in a barren desert of COVID updates, my bridge to a day when I can sit inside Zane’s again and laugh at my friends aggressively cheering or jeering grown folks playing kids’ games.
Fearing the return of sports is a bigger sham than McLovin trying to pass off as a 25-year-old from Hawaii, let’s take a look at what we can grasp on to.
After a midseason offseason, players have returned mostly healthy and polished. It’s almost as if they treated the break as an offseason. Nikola Jokic learned what a treadmill is, Luka Doncic has taken a massive step in time for the postseason, and I’m assuming the same goes for hockey players.
One thing that I’ve noticed that is the same for both sports is the amount of thought each league put into these bubbles. NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s love of the game is as evident as Canada’s fear of U.S. coronavirus protocols. Whatever the motivation was, each also is benefiting from only having to finish their postseasons.
I’m not sure if it’s the 11:30 a.m. tips or the lack of fans but these playoffs have an Olympics feel to them. Obviously, sports are pointless without fans and rebubbling teams would be a disservice but I do like the neutral court/ice aspect. If there’s a way to incorporate a midseason or postseason play-in tournament, the NBA and NHL should explore avenues to make it happen but also make it meaningful. How you do that without watering down the regular season I don’t know.
Baseball approached their season much like a fed-up parent giving in to a child’s demands for a toy at the grocery store.
“Mom, can I get this?”
“No, and if you ask again I’m taking away TV.”
“But Mom, why can’t I have it?”
“OK, FINE! PUT IT IN THE CART!”
(Child gingerly places toy in cart, not sure if that was a yes.)
Commissioner Rob Manfred feels like he should have his authority taken away for negligence. I want to give the guy a break because he had players, fans, owners and anyone with an affinity for America’s time past yelling at him to start the season.
On the other hand, if South Korea can’t figure out how to play a travel season with the testing they have, Manfred should’ve known sending 20- and 30-year-olds on regional sightseeing tours was always going to end up at the strip club.
There’s a way to semi-bubble it with teams playing games at spring training facilities and rotating to other locations. This is exactly what the NBA and NHL could do if they try a full season without fans and just have different, for a lack of a better word, campuses with maybe a month on, two weeks off to allow players some mental reprieve.
Roger Goodell’s coronavirus panel/task force(?) reads like a list of NFL legends he wants to force to hang out with him.
“Hey, Isaac Bruce, do you like wine? I’ve got some red, some white. Just let me know and I’ll have a guy get the decanters.”
“Uh, I’m good. It’s like 10 a.m. I thought we were here to talk logistics and ways to keep the players safe and keep games going. Also, why do you keep saying my full name?”
We’re going to get to the midway point and half the teams are going to have a quarter of their schedule played. You can reread the MLB section if you need a look at how the merit system worked out. Baseball teams aren’t huge and the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization got coronavirus like VD at a frat house.
Of all sports, football is the most egregious as far as doing exactly what medical experts advise you not to do to prevent the spread of rona. I have a parallel for how fast corona would spread among a football locker room but the NFL has enough needle- and opioid-related problems.
Good luck with your fantasy football seasons, may your commissioner be not a total dumbass.
I would delve into college sports, too, but it’s too depressing. Two conferences solely playing in-conference football games is like the AL East and the NL West only competing against each other then declaring themselves world champions. Teams should play a few exhibition games and market them like international friendlies in soccer.
I’d watch that but I’d also watch competitive darts once basketball ends. I’m hoping that sports — and fan-filled sports bars — get back faster than a 20-year-old shotguns a Truly.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at email@example.com.
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