May 4 2020
There are a lot of things in the world more important than sports, as we so clearly realize now more than ever in the middle of a global pandemic, but I’ve still got to say: I miss the games, the golf, the French Open. Most of us will dearly miss the Olympics.
Who won the Masters? We’ll know in November, if they even play it then as it’s been rescheduled. Somebody should have slipped into his green jacket in the Butler Cabin on Easter Sunday, but not this time. For everyone, this was an Easter like no other, one that defined our fractured relationship with our families, our jobs, our health, our cultures, our identities.
You need not be a sports fan to appreciate what’s not happening. No peanuts and Cracker Jack at the ballpark, no basketball, no hockey, no Premier League, no Olympics, no racing – neither horse nor auto – no spring football, pretty much no nothing. The way I see it, part of the fabric of our worldwide connectivity is missing.
If we were all talking in the break room at the office, which we obviously are not, the two normal topics to discuss would likely be the weather and sports. Three if you want to count what you think of Joe Exotic.
We’ve experienced something sort of like this before, in the aftermath of 9/11, when sports turned out to be something of a refuge from the huge hurt and the pain. We have often times turned to sports for solace and found a safe place where we could park our anxiety outside.
I for one, would love to be able to get my hockey jersey on again and watch as the winning team’s captain skated around the rink, holding the Stanley Cup trophy aloft while I hear them play “We Are the Champions.” Or sit back in a box seat at the Oakland Coliseum and watch the A’s Matt Chapman vacuum a hot-shot ground ball from his third-base position and fire a laser to first-baseman Matt Olsen for the out.
So much remains at stake for anything like that to happen. First, there’s got to be some sort of handle on Covid-19 that means everyone can feel safe about going out in groups. But for corporations and brands, and leagues and rights-holders, there is also risk. Huge risk. Sports isn’t fun and games for them, it’s business. I don’t blame them.
But for many, it really is fun and games, and that’s what I miss, what we’re living without. Sports would be a welcome distraction in addition to the usual benefits we get . . . something to talk about and to share and to enjoy. Maybe we’ll all get our games back soon and the only mask we have to worry about for awhile is the one the catcher is wearing.
I do know first-hand about sports as a big business: I spent 18 of my PR years in sports media relations: San Francisco Giants, Nike, EA Sports. There are a lot of people who need to get back to work. Vendors, parking attendants, video crews and yes, the team PR people. Two words to look forward to: Play Ball.