Are We Really Zooming Ourselves into NBA Playoff Games? Yes, Yes We Are

Field of dreams.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Rich Thomas
  • Illustrated by
    Nikki Smith

I can’t think of anything I care for less than sports.

Everyone has at least one friend with that opinion, and chances are you secretly hold a small amount of disdain for him or her—especially since it’s something they casually lob into conversations to achieve some type of reaction. It’s like the person who “doesn’t get” The Beatles or, despite having no dietary restrictions or underlying health conditions, “doesn’t care much for dessert.” Who hurt you … and how can we help?

For those of us who care deeply about sports—who have multiple jerseys from various teams hanging in their closet, or have sworn loudly enough at the television to make someone else in the room moderately uncomfortable—this year has been a tough sell. Canned crowd noise piped into cavernous football stadiums rings a little hollow, but at the same time it’s hard to see even the socially distanced crowds in Jacksonville or Kansas City and not think about the potential health consequences. And when the Lightning raised the Stanley Cup and paraded it around the rink at an empty Rogers Place—nearly 3,000 miles from Tampa Bay—you couldn’t help but feel pangs of disappointment for the players.

But still we tune in and cheer and fork over a few hundred dollars to get our dog’s face printed on a piece of foamcore that sits on a hot seat down the first base line at Dodger Stadium just because we can. We roll the dice on absurd last-place punishments in fantasy sports because it’s all we’ve got—and if I have to shave my head, then fine. It’s a pandemic, and dad needed a haircut anyway.

Because sports matter. It’s why people who’ve never had a child in AYSO still drive past an empty pitch on a Saturday afternoon and stare as if a game were happening. Or why people who don’t play baseball walk by the diamonds at Anderson or Perry Park and get bummed out by the overgrowth in the outfield.

If you’re the parent of a senior who didn’t get to compete in their final year of high school sports, I feel for you. If this was the year you were planning on signing your kid up for U5 soccer and you really want to see a bunch of children kick stuff around aimlessly while people yell and point fingers, watch C-SPAN.

Here’s the truth. The kids needed a break anyway. Apart from the small group of career athletes who train with the focus and intensity required of someone hoping to excel at the next level, a lot of kids have enough on their plate and are secretly thrilled at the prospect of not having to stand in center field on a 90º day wearing an uncomfortable plastic cup and praying that a towering fly ball doesn’t come their way. If anything, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Full schedules will return, and fans will trickle back in. Until then, when was the last time you watched Chariots of Fire, The Natural, When We Were Kings, Rudy or Hoop Dreams? Yes, the kid is old enough for Dodgeball. Might be time for a movie night. And don’t worry—your jerseys will still be there to make your wife uncomfortable when you wear them in public on days where there is no game.