Tennis (Photo by Lucas Davies on Unsplash)

A Worried Sports Fan

I am an avid sports fan, specifically hockey, tennis, baseball and basketball. Due to the Pandemic, I have felt a void. I feel sort of wussy for admitting this considering so many people are going through WAY more important hardships right now. But sports has always been an important mental diversion in my busy life. And it’s been months without a game to watch. I’m so grateful for online concerts, chats and Netflix, but still something feels like it has been missing these many weeks.

So with the recent news that numerous North American sports leagues are scheduled to resume play in the coming weeks, I’m getting very excited. But I’m also very worried!

First and foremost, I’m concerned about the health of the athletes and their support staff. I can’t help but feel that if there’s a rash of infections and even worse, a loss of life, that sportsfan’s like me are the cause of it. I know that money is driving the motivation to return to play. Live sports on TV is a HUGE business. A lot of people have lost a lot of money in the past bunch of weeks because the arenas and stadiums have gone quiet. Even though these players will be sequestered in their “bubbles” and playing in empty stadiums and arenas, there’s no guarantee. With just a week before Major League Soccer returns to play, 6 players on ONE team have already tested positive for COVID. How far as a society are we willing to push to demand that we be entertained?

How about social justice concerns? With so many people dying and others’ human rights being trampled, is it right for sports to distract from this or does sports offer a platform to bring more awareness and recognition for people who are doing good? I’m torn on this question.

If games and matches do resume, I’m also concerned about what TV coverage might reveal about these athletes that I revere. Because of high-quality pics court and field-side coupled with no residual background noise from fans in the seats, will we be hearing athletes saying less than desirable things in the heat battle? All sports fans know that “trash talking” is part of many athletes’ game plan in gaining a competitive advantage over their opponent. But in the heat of battle, what if offensive expletives are uttered? I personally wouldn’t be offended by hearing reactions like the F-word. (Heck you can’t watch many TV shows or film these days without hearing it.) But what if homophobic slurs are used? Personally, this is out of bounds completely for me and players should be disciplined. Same with racial slurs except for possibly the N-word if it is uttered from one black athlete to another. The N-word has cultural significance within many black communities. So I don’t really feel like I should have a say.

As much as I tend to be a free speech and anti-censorship advocate, I am concerned about children watching. I’m also not naive to think that children are not aware or even using profane language these days. Is coddling them from the reality of our world really a good thing?

I’m also worried about the TV mystique of sports being lost with the new normal. Will you get excited for the action when there will be no crowd reacting to it? Will they delay the broadcast to bleep out expletives or have fake crowd noise or random music playing? But most importantly, beyond all these little details, if major league sports bungles player/support staff safety, will this delay progress for re-opening the Arts industry?

Knowing me, I’ll definitely be watching upcoming sports events to check it out just to fill the void. But knowing me, I’ll also tune out if it’s not gratifying. What will I fill the void with then?

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