We've Got No Games For A While. And That's OK.
For as long as men and women have run, swam and jumped and balls have been thrown, there’s been a joy among many to cast scorn on the social significance of sports.
To a certain set, it’s a badge of honor to look down their collective noses at the silly frivolities of people in garish costumes doing things that bring no value to society at large and collect excessive salaries doing them.
For years, I’ve received emails from some of you – and you know who you are – that within them have the phrase "I don’t like sports."
So, in this miserable month where these silly games have come to a screeching halt, I’ve thought about the pooh-pooh set and wondered whether they’ve got what they bargained for.
Now, make no mistake, the decisions of various sports commissioners and executives to suspend play in the midst of COVID-19 was not only entirely appropriate, but absolutely essential.
We surely didn’t need people gathering to watch others running and jumping and swimming and throwing balls. Not right now, and maybe for a long time.
That’s not to say that we don’t miss these events. For hoops junkies like me, losing the NCAA basketball tournament as we did is an arrow right to the heart.
The University of Maryland men’s and women’s teams had legitimate aspirations to national championships that will forever go unfulfilled, except in video game simulations.
And we haven’t even talked about the spring athletes, most of whom lost their entire seasons, most before they really began. The NCAA must give every baseball, softball, lacrosse and track athlete another season of eligibility to make things right.
That said, it’s entirely possible, if not downright probable that the realm of sports we knew before the first of March will be changed forever, that we may never be comfortable sitting next to each other in a gym or arena or stadium again.
To be honest, things have been moving in that direction for quite some time. The notion that ticket buyers pay the freight for sports has been a fairy tale for decades.
Television rights fees are the mother’s milk of games. Indeed, NFL owners pushed through a 10-year collective bargaining agreement with players this month with a sole purpose:
So they could go to the networks, cable and satellite operators and streaming services and get new, lucrative media deals to fill their coffers.
That said, for now, for the foreseeable future, the games have to stop. It’s just not appropriate for games to be going on in this time of uncertainty, when so little is known about the virus we face.
If we don’t finish the NBA or NHL seasons until the summer, so be it. If the start of the baseball season is delayed for a while, that’s OK.
The Canadian Olympic Committee is pulling its athletes out of this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo and the rest of the world should follow suit and put the great spectacle on hold for a year.
But all the games will come back. They have to. Because sports really matter.
And that’s how I see it for this week.
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