Opinion: Television worth watching (a.k.a. sports) is back

When I hear people talk about cutting their TV cable package, I realize there’s only one reason for me to retain it: sports.

I could do without everything else on TV. But I would miss my hockey, football and baseball, and some of the other stuff I watch casually.

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So it’s ironic that I haven’t missed live sports that much in the past four months. Maybe it’s because the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, when the weather was starting to warm up. By the time the mad rush of covering everything associated with the pandemic had subsided in early April, we could do other things besides yearn for playoff hockey.

For me, I like to go for a jog or a long walk, then come home, sit on my deck, barbecue supper, drink a couple of craft beers, read a book and listen to some music. I don’t sit out on the patio and think to myself, “Geez, I really wish I could be inside watching a baseball game” when it’s 20 C outside and I’m listening to the music of some independent rock group I recently discovered.

On those rare nights in which I was confined indoors, I’ve had work on my condo to complete.

If this pandemic would have started in November, it would have been difficult trying to get through the winter months just sitting indoors.

Well, we’re starting to see live sports return. There has been this MLS is Back tournament for Major League Soccer. (I haven’t watched it). Major League Baseball’s opening night was Thursday. The NHL and the NBA start right away.

Yes, I get my television back. Hockey is back. We’re going to get several games a day that start in the morning and go all day. Saturday morning playoff hockey should be the best thing to happen to my television on a Saturday morning since I was six years old and discovered those iconic cartoons based on Hasbro toys.

Here’s the conundrum: it’s still summer out.

In July and August, I don’t want to see ice. I don’t want to think of ice. The only ice I want to see is in my drink.

August long weekend? I’d rather be golfing, or sitting on my deck and having a beer, or lighting up a cigar, or doing anything other than sitting inside and watching television.

I’ll watch some of the games, but not a lot of them. There’s lots to do in August that doesn’t involve leading a sedentary lifestyle.

There was one positive for me with sports in recent months: I enjoy horse racing. At one time, it was pretty much the only sport going. You could actually have thoroughbred racing during the pandemic, due to the size of the venues, the limited number of people who actually need to be at the track each race, and the simple fact that people can wager online rather than at the track itself.

It’s not a gate-driven sport. Most tracks don’t even charge an admission fee.

Haven’t watched any NASCAR or golf. No interest in Major League Soccer and the MLS is back tournament. (A couple of teams had to withdraw due to COVID outbreaks among their players).

We’ll see how long the return of live sports lasts. I’m a little more confident in the ability of the NHL to finish its season than the NBA, because Edmonton and Toronto aren’t as hard hit by COVID-19 as large U.S. markets.

I’m not sure how long Major League Baseball will keep going, either. They’re likely the most susceptible to a COVID shutdown, because of the amount of travel that’s ongoing, particularly to areas of the U.S. getting walloped by the virus. (Maybe baseball should have had gone with the hub city format).

I hope we’ll get a CFL season. It’s going to be tough to reach an agreement, get the American players up here, have them go through self-isolation for 14 days and get a short season in. If there is a season, it will be in Winnipeg.

I’m fine with that. Manitoba has likely done the best job of handling this pandemic out of any jurisdiction in North America.

The bad news is since Winnipeg is the hub city, it gives the players another reason to not want to play this season.

I don’t know how many games I’ll watch. Some won’t be able to get enough of the games. Others will be like me and want to enjoy their summers.

But hockey will be the best thing for me to watch on a Saturday morning since the original Transformers series.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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