Hoo boy it's been awhile. Desperate times call for desperate measures, though, right? ...RIGHT?!?!
The last time I was seen around these parts was three and a half years ago, after a certain team, that hails from a certain Midwestern city, broke a 108-year curse (that wasn't real, though, right?) on a warm November evening in Cleveland. I must say, though, after reading back on that post, that was some of my best work.
Since the middle of March, we sports fans have been deprived of quite a bit.
A partial list (of course some have been rescheduled):
- March Madness
- NBA and NHL stretch runs
- The Players Championship
- Spring Training and Opening Day in MLB
- The Masters
- NBA and Stanley Cup Playoffs
- The Preakness
- College World Series
- Little League World Series
As leagues and conferences work on their plans to resume or begin their 2020 seasons, I thought I'd pen (type) an open letter to Sports in 2020. Soooo here goes...
We miss you. You miss us. I think in a lot of respects we're all in the same boat. We need you and you need us. There's been nothing but daily COVID-19 updates, businesses closing, and racial injustices over the last four months. We're so ready for your return.
In addition to the above list of major sporting events that have been cancelled or pushed, we've also lost out on our own recreational opportunities. Until recently, in Illinois we weren't able to play golf, and only within the last two weeks were we able to play in foursomes and use carts. Personally, I've lost out on a good chunk of my softball tournaments and league nights, and so many others have lost out on volleyball leagues, basketball leagues, 5k's and marathons...you name it. The spring high school sports season here in Illinois was totally wiped out. Seniors who worked so hard for that last season, or maybe even just an opportunity to take over a starting spot, had it taken away from them. Lastly, one of the great joys for my family over the last four summers has been our foray into the world of thoroughbred racehorse ownership. Arlington Park not being open (don't get me started) is a huge bummer. For so many of us, sports is the diversion to everyday life's problems and stresses.
I, for one, am glad that the NBA and NHL will be resuming their seasons. I'm not much for NBA basketball, and with the Bulls being out, somehow I care even less. I am interested to see what it looks like, though. I'm fascinated by communication between players, between officials and players, and officials and coaches. I'm hoping get a lot of hot mics on those games. As for the NHL, we get playoff hockey in Chicago again! Even if the Hawks don't have a great shot at their fourth Stanley Cup in the last 10 years, there might not be anything greater in sports than high stakes playoff hockey. I can't wait for those games to start.
Where do I start with you, Major League Baseball? Obviously, MLB is in a different spot in that they had yet to begin their season, rather than just having to crown a champion. Why can't the two sides come together on an agreement? I get where the players are coming from, putting themselves at risk while taking a lot less money than they expected to be paid. I also get where the owners are coming from, given that a good chunk of a team's revenue comes from gameday sales (tickets, parking, concessions, merch, etc.). Even if we do play baseball in 2020, there's going to be a lot less money in the owners' pockets.
That, of course, means less money to pay players. I know the players understand the math, but who can blame them for standing up for their collective selves? Why should they take a further pay cut, especially after they already agreed to take one back in March? I mean, if it were you and me being asked to take a pay cut at our jobs after we already had salary slashed, we'd pitch a fit, too. It's just that millionaires bickering with billionaires makes everyone look bad. Get your shit together, guys...we'd really like to see some baseball this summer.
What I'd really love to see from you, Sports, in 2020 is CREATIVITY. This year is clearly unlike anything we've seen before, so why not try some stuff out? We're already going to have the universal DH this year...if baseball begins...why not try out those robot umpires? What if the NBA decided to bring all 30 teams to Orlando for a single elimination bracket? I feel like that would be incredibly entertaining.
Golf might have the biggest opportunity of all. Even though we've missed a few big tournaments, it appears they're back to a somewhat normal schedule. Why not give us more access to sound we might not get otherwise? Player-caddy shot prep, banter between players...the occasional burst of anger...I'm here for all of it. What I'd really like to see is more of these specialty matches. Put a couple more foursomes together, mic them up and let them go. Put it on a premium channel and don't censor it. I want to hear all of the shit talking and side betting.
I've also seen a lot of desire to preserve the integrity of these sports. Like the desire to keep a homecourt advantage in the upcoming NBA Playoffs...rolling in the higher seed's home floor? Come on...let's just play the games and get ready for next season.
Moral of the story, we need you back, Sports. We need the daily distraction from work, school, COVID, protests...oh and lest we forget it's an election year??!?! Fucccckkkkk...
Get back in our lives. Safely and responsibly, of course, but get back here.
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