As we approach the end of 2020—one of the strangest years known to mankind—we once again turn our attention to the things that make us happy, the things that bring us joy in the face of sadness and despair: live sporting events.
We know the leagues and TV broadcast partners are happy, or maybe relieved? While the world tries to return to normal, we can be grateful that sports, although different, have at least given us an outlet. That is what sports have always done—provided us with a release! That is why when people attend or tune into a sports event they do not want to be reminded of their problems, politics, or other incendiary touch point issues.
The sports world continues to roll on, albeit with various of stops and starts due to COVID-19. Teams are affected or infected, and then games are postponed or canceled. However, let us focus on the positives as we have live sporting events almost every day and quite frequently during the day now. If fans are not attending, it really does not make a difference when the games are being played! College basketball games are played on most any weekday. Horse racing, soccer and golf are all getting plenty of coverage and for the first time in history an NFL game will have been played on every day of the week. Perhaps the Grateful Dead said it best, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The NFL is coming into to its playoff season. We have the NBA starting up again soon with its preseason. It looks like the NHL and its players have agreed on a shortened season with a seven-team Canadian division that will compete so that teams do not have to cross the border.
Long strange trip, indeed!
We have college basketball in full swing! Kind of…87% of the teams in Division-I are still playing and many colleges are taking hiatus depending on COVID-19 results, but everyone is seriously trying to combat the virus while maintaining the competition.
A couple of things near and dear to my heart:
In an earlier article I joked about the Jets taking the year off when they lost their first couple of games. I did not mean to be a prophet as they are facing their first winless season in history…any Jets fan worth his salt is rooting for an 0-16 record and the hope of drafting Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson University with the number one pick. The Jets are coming off a game in which their defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams) was fired because he basically gave the game away on the last play! You do have to feel bad for the players who do not think about draft picks. They are playing for contracts and to showcase their talents to other teams next year, so the players are not trying or wanting to lose. But, as my dad once reminded me, they do not have any trouble cashing their paychecks!
Let us talk about the sale of the Mets (and from the bottom of my heart, thank you Steve Cohen!) What many people do not understand is that, to Mets fans, this is their Nirvana. It is not so much that Mets fans think they are going to win the World Series every year, or sign every free agent who is available, it is just that the previous ownership was so blatantly terrible.
Let us hear from longtime Baseball broadcaster Ed Randall who was recently interviewed on our Clubhouse radio program, heard nationally on Sirius/XM: “Mets fans were conditioned by the Wilpons to not expect much. The Wilpons really did a disservice to their fans, they had a tremendous disrespect for the Mets fan base which is as rabid and loyal as any in the game and the Mets fan is now hearing that is over after 40 years of torture. The New York Mets are going to be a world class organization!”
Wow! Who wants to join me at Citi Field in 2021? (God willing!)
The New York Football Giants have pulled their season out of the fryer and look like they might actually win that division! It is not a great division, but at the end of the day that is not their fault! They are starting to play some good football and coming off a great win against the Seattle Seahawks. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-1 and finally lost a game recently to the Washington “Football Team.” I think the Steelers might be a little overrated and the Kansas City Chiefs are going to be a tough out again and may go back-to-back with Super Bowl victories.
On the NFC side you do have some interesting scenarios with the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints looking like the cream of the crop.
College basketball looks like it might be wide open as teams like Duke and Kentucky (unranked) have struggled.
Interestingly, after losing to Illinois, the second loss for Duke on the Cameron Court, which is unheard of when the “Cameron Crazies” are there, Coach K decided to share his thoughts about playing during COVID-19. Mike Krzyzewski criticized his sport’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic just weeks into the new season that has already seen dozens of coronavirus-related game cancelations or delays.
Following No. 10-ranked Duke’s loss to No. 6 Illinois, Krzyzewski was asked in a post-game news conference about playing basketball as cases around the U.S. continue to grow and are expected to get worse approaching the holidays.
“I don’t think it feels right to anybody,” he said. “I mean everyone is concerned.”
Only the most cynical person would wonder aloud if he would feel the same after a win. Right?
Speaking of cynical! Kirk Herbstreit had to walk back his thoughts about the University of Michigan, surmising that they would back out of the game against Ohio State (which they did two weeks later). Herbstreit is probably the most recognizable “voice” of college football and was a quarterback at Ohio State in the early1990s. Naturally, his apology about his assessment was taken with a grain of salt because, frankly, every Ohio State fan probably thinks the same thing. If Michigan could find an “out” from a game they had no shot at winning after being humiliated last year 56-27 and losing to their archenemies the last three years, and seven of the last nine years…well? Cynical?
Summing it up, there have been a lot of losses in 2020 sports. Loss of income for the hard-working folks at stadiums and venues, personnel on game day, and job losses at organizations. Losses of games and great tournaments. But there have been some winners and interesting trends.
One obvious winner is the gambling industry. In October alone, Americans bet an estimated $3 billion on sports—just for that month alone! Companies like Draft Kings (stock up 39% last month), Penn National (46%) and Betz ETF (27%) are enjoying the new legalized gambling craze. So are states such as New Jersey, which saw over $803 million in bets for the same month!
And finally, for your edification and with sincere apologies to Dr. Seuss:
ALL THE WHO’S DOWN IN WHOVILLE LIKED SPORTS A LOT …
BUT THE YEAR OF COVID–DID NOT!
COVID TRIED TO CANCEL SPORTS
THE ENTIRE SPORTS SEASON!
PLEASE DON’T ASK WHY
EVEN DR. FAUCI DOESN’T KNOW THE REASON!
WE LOST MATCHES, GAMES AND MARCH MADNESS!
AND THEN WHAT WE FELT MOST
EIGHT WEEKS BECAME THE SUMMER
THEN THE FALL, AND WE ALL SAID
WHAT A BUMMER…
WE CAN’T EVEN GO TO THE MALL???
AS A SIDENOTE—
THIS WAS A POSITIVE FOR DT
DISDAINS DOES HE
“WE WILL CONTINUE,” SAID SPORTS TEAMS AND LEAGUES WITH A BOOM!
“WE WILL CONTINUE, BUT WE MAY NEED TO ZOOM!”
SO HERE WE SIT, 2020 AT AN END
LET’S HOPE THERE IS NONE OTHER LIKE IT
AND WE ARE ON THE ROAD TO MEND
A NEW YEAR TO CELEBRATE
HOPING TO REMEMBER THOSE LESS FORTUNATE
SO, PUT ON THAT JERSEY
AND FLICK ON THAT GAME!
SPORTS WILL ENTERTAIN US
SO WE DON’T GO INSANE!
God bless! Happy Holidays and the very best for all of us in 2021!