Return To Sports Fandom

Are sports an escape from the world, or is the world an escape from sports? Silly question, right? I have thought about this a lot over the last few days and I think my answer is the latter.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t like sports. They quickly became my world. The world, as the rest of you know it, is what I go to in the moments I want to get away from sports. It is my escape from sports.

It has been 128 days since the NBA put their league on pause, which created a domino effect around the world.

That is when most people started taking COVID-19 seriously.

Sports were on pause. Life was on pause. Even the calendar stopped moving. Days didn’t exist anymore. Time did not pass.

It was like we all entered Narnia and kept coming back through the wardrobe to look at the clock, only to see that five seconds had gone by.

We’re all going to tell our grandkids about how the last three weeks of March 2020 felt like they took four months/six months/a year to complete. And they’ll laugh and think we’re using hyperbole (if they even know what that means), while we shudder at the memory. 

I did not know what I would do without sports. Who am I without them? I have never gone more than a couple of days without consuming sports in some way. And now I couldn’t.

It was like a Dementor stopped by and sucked out my soul.

I remember somewhere around Day 13 without sports – I was struggling. What do I do at night? What do I look forward to during the day? There were just too many empty hours.

Sports television networks quickly caught on that they can show old games at night. You would think I’d find that appeasing. To an extent, I did. It just depended on the game.

Any game from the early 2000s, I was in. The Raptors playoff run from last year? Let’s go. The Blue Jays playoff games from 2015 and 2016? Giddy up.

But the random regular season baseball games from 2015? I couldn’t do it. I swear, they were showing the same regular season games over and over.

All they had to do was dig up any Blue Jays game from 2002 and I would’ve been hooked.

I found that if I wasn’t emotionally connected to the game, I didn’t care.

You know the quote about how people may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel? The same can be applied to sports.

I remember when the Librarian at my elementary school taught us how to take notes from an overhead projector. We were to read a paragraph and only write down the important parts.

When we look back, we aren’t going to remember every at-bat of a baseball game. We aren’t going to remember every goal in a hockey game. We aren’t going to remember every basket of a basketball game. We aren’t going to remember every touchdown in a football game.

Instead, we remember the moments and associate a feeling to them. At least, I do.

I was reminded of this last night, when a Blue Jays playoff game from October 9, 2016 was on TV.

I was at that game. It was Game 3 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers. With a win, the Blue Jays would sweep the series. Last night was the first time I had seen the game on TV.

I didn’t remember anything that happened between the national anthems and the last at-bat. A game full of highlights, yet none of them looked familiar to me. There was even a player on the Rangers – Jared Hoying – who I had never seen, or heard of, before.

That is rare of me to not recognize a player’s name.

When I think of that game, I think of it as being one of the best sporting events I’ve ever attended because of how I felt, leaving the stadium.

The game went to the bottom of the 10th inning, tied at 6. The Blue Jays had runners at first (Encarnacion) and second (Donaldson), with one out and Russell Martin at the plate.

This is where my memory of that game finally kicks in.

Martin hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw it to second, to start the double play. The second basemen, and most hated person in Canada, at the time, Rougned Odor, then threw the ball to first basemen, Mitch Moreland.

But it was a bad throw! It bounced away from Moreland. Martin was safe at first and Donaldson was heading home.

I remember Donaldson was almost halfway down the third base line, before the crowd collectively realized what he was doing. Then he slid head first into home plate and the party was on.

I hugged and jumped around with my friends and the strangers next to me. It was wild.

My memory has erased 99% of the game and yet I’ll never forget that night at Rogers Centre.

There are more important things in the world than sports. I realize this. However, if sports leagues are going to attempt to come back during the middle of a pandemic, who am I to tell them that it might be a bad idea?

Soccer has been back for awhile now, but I’ve never really cared much for soccer, so that did nothing to quench my thirst.

Formula 1 returned a few weeks ago in Austria. Leading up to the Friday Practice, I was nervous. Who gets nervous about watching sports? Especially me?

Oh, but I was.

What if I tuned in and didn’t enjoy it? What if I was bored? What if I forgot how to watch sports? Do I need to build my attention span back up?

I was worried for nothing. Everything about the Austrian Grand Prix reminded me why I love sports. The drama. The unpredictability. The chaos. It was wonderful.

Now, a new baseball season starts next Thursday. Basketball resumes on July 30th. Hockey comes back on the first day of August, and there will be games all day, every day.

How in the world is it already August?

My favourite sport is whichever one is currently in-season. And now they are all in-season!

As Taylor Swift once said, this is a nightmare dressed as a daydream.

I’m excited that I’m finally going to have sports to watch. I am worried about games in different sports overlapping and forcing me to switch channels, though.

But I guess that’s a good problem to have right now.

August has always been the worst month to be a sports fan, and now it’s going to be the best month.

I am well-aware that all of this can go sideways, any minute, because these leagues, and their plans, are at the mercy of the virus.

I think the NHL and NBA could be okay, if their bubbles are bulletproof. I am not a health and safety expert, though.

The MLB plan freaks me out (Again, not a health and safety expert) because every team is going to be travelling to a new place every three days, or so. It also doesn’t help that the Blue Jays are a Canadian team. I think the league forgot.

At this point, the Blue Jays don’t have clearance from the federal government to play their home games in Toronto.

Something about the whole, LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE COMING FROM THE U.S. AND POSSIBLY BRINGING THE VIRUS WITH THEM, doesn’t sit well with them.

That being said, it sounds like it could happen, which would require both the Blue Jays, and their opponents, to quarantine at the hotel attached to the stadium.

Sure, the players won’t get to go outside and roam around the city, but if they want to play baseball this season, it’s what they have to do.

Insert rant about how baffled I am that it’s so hard for people to stay inside. The sun will be there next summer. Let’s make sure you are, too.

We live in a bizarre world right now.

Everyone is frustrated. Everything is cake. Everywhere is not like it was six months ago.

But sports are coming back, whether we think they should, or not. And if they can provide us with some much-needed joy and happiness, then sign me up.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned enough about myself over the last 128 days.

And one of the things I have learned is that I am ready to be a sports fan again.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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24 Responses to Return To Sports Fandom

  1. Paul, what I really love about your posts is that I have zero knowledge about sports but I still find everything you write to be interesting and hilarious! Life really has been on pause for the past few months and it’s been such a weird time to live through. I’m happy that you will be able to return to somewhat normal now that you can watch sports though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thank you, I appreciate you saying that! I know sports aren’t going to interest everyone, but if I can throw in some humour and other references, I hope that’ll keep people around.

      Like

  2. markbialczak says:

    Much like you, Paul, sports have always been a major part of my life.
    I even watched the NASCAR iRacing in April …
    But as we approach the start of these short simultaneous seasons, I must share this thought:
    I’m not all-in on them happening if it turns out the health of the players and support systems turn out to be in danger from the virus. Team sports require more close exchanges than golf and NASCAR …
    I’m nervous it’s happening before it’s safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I found myself watching the Formula 1 video game series, so I can relate.

      I’m also concerned that they’re coming back too soon, but I feel like the NHL and NBA bubbles could work just as long as everyone gets in and stays in. MLB worries me. I don’t know what the NFL is doing and it sounds like they don’t either, so we’ll see.

      In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any sports until the pandemic is over. But we both know there are millions of dollars involved with sponsors and player contracts…this return was inevitable. I just hope they’re safe about it.

      Like

  3. Becky says:

    I come for the sports post but stay for the Harry Potter and Taylor Swift references.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. peckapalooza says:

    Is it bad that whenever I read Formula 1, I say it like Sacha Baron Cohen in Talladega Nights?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. darthtimon says:

    The return of F1 has been sooooooo good! Two pretty good races, and next up a circuit I love. I don’t know why, but on F1 racing games I do quite well at Hungary.

    Main thing is that Liverpool FC won the league title after 30 years of waiting. Oh how that felt good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Congratulations to your team!

      I’m really loving how the mid-field teams are catching up to the top teams in F1 – if only because Ferrari is struggling. I’m the exact opposite with Hungary in video games! It’s probably my worst track. The middle sector always does me in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • darthtimon says:

        Hehe, if I struggle anywhere on Hungary it’s the very end of the first sector, that fast uphill section that snaps into a sudden left-hander. My worst track is Silverstone (ironic being a Brit!)

        I don’t know whether to be glad of Ferrari’s woes or not. It would be great to see a competitive grid, but I don’t like the way Ferrari treated Nigel Mansell all those years ago. A good McLaren and a strong Red Bull to keep Hamilton honest would be nice, though I want him to equal Schumacher’s record.

        Strange but true – like Hamilton, I grew up in Stevenage. I dare say I grew up in a nicer part of town, but it’s left me with an affinity for Lewis, even when he’s been petulant and difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        That sudden left-hander has sent me onto the gravel more times than I can count. And I stand corrected, my worst track is also Silverstone. It’s just impossible. My favourites are Singapore and Brazil. I like Canada too, but the last quick right-left turn before the front straightaway always gives me problems.

        I can understand that – always good to cheer for someone who came from where you did. I’d love to see McLaren get back to where they were during the Hakkinen years. We need some variety at the top. We also need Red Bull have both cars be contenders.

        This weekend should be fun! I think there’s supposed to be rain both days.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. darthtimon says:

    In an ideal season Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all battling for the title would be sensational!

    Singapore is an amazing track, but full race sims are painful on the thumbs there! Makes me appreciate what it must be like to be crammed into a tight cockpit for two hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’m always amazed how they aren’t dripping in sweat and dehydrated after some of these races. I know they have a drink in there, but still. They pop out of the car and do interviews for half an hour.

      Liked by 1 person

      • darthtimon says:

        I can vividly remember Nigel Mansell looking on the verge of collapse after Monaco 92. The fitness levels of today’s racers is sensational, easily up there with the top athletes of any sport.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Dutch Lion says:

    Well done Paulie. I know exactly how you feel. I’m the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      We’re so close to actual games!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dutch Lion says:

        Let’s address your introduction. I too don’t understand people who say “sports are a distraction”. That’s BS! Sports are just as big a part of society as anything. Why do we hear this phrase? I think it’s pretentious, disengenuous, and assumes too much. Is government a distraction? Politics? Business? Arts? Entertainment? Sports? Weather? These are all sections of the newspaper. Why is it when a disaster happens (9/11, war, pandemics, hurricanes) that everyone, including ESPN sportscasters, say something to the effect of: “we need the distraction of sports”? That’s BS to me. Sports ARE life. I could keep going but I think you get the point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        I completely get what you’re saying. I think people who don’t like sports think sports fans are just wasting their time watching a child’s game. They don’t understand how much we can learn from it by participating in sports growing up, or being in that environment as a fan. Their loss.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. markbialczak says:

    I watched the Mets vs. the Yankees exhibition last night, Paul. With cutout fans in the behind-the-plate seats and piped-in crowd reaction. Very odd. They also announced the decision that your Blue Jays would play home games in Buffalo. I immediately thought that I could drive over from Syracuse to watch my Mets play your Jays. Wait. No fans allowed smacked me in the head once again. What an odd 60-game season this is going to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      As much as sports are going to be a distraction from what’s going on in the world, every two minutes there will be something that reminds us that nothing is normal right now. It’s going to be weird. I just read that the Jays’ players have told management they’d prefer to play home games in a major league stadium which means we might have to borrow someone’s stadium, or multiple stadiums. Buffalo doesn’t seem up to par (yet) in terms of lighting and space.

      Like

  9. Pingback: The week gone by — July 19 – A Silly Place

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