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.