Just don't do it
The effects of COVID-19 on the health and welfare of our country are profound and depressing.
I just wanted to start out with that sober statement, so as to not seem uncaring (I'm not) as I pivot to the more frivolous impacts of this thing-that-shall-not-be named. Specifically, its impact on sports fans, and more specifically, me.
Take the excruciating attempt to open up organized sports on any level. Just give it up, pack it in, call it day, wait till next year. I enjoy almost any sporting event, in person or on TV, but the contortions people are going through to make this happen are hard to watch.
Baseball - no spitting, no sunflower seeds, no peanut shells... No arguing with the umpires or the opposing team within six feet (or you might be ejected). Players are "strongly discouraged" from throwing the ball around the infield after an out. Players must use their own pine tar rags, bat donuts, and other equipment in the on-deck circle. Fielders are also "encouraged to retreat several steps away" from the base runner when the ball is out of play.
Oh... My... God. That, and it's just a 60-game season. It's already July. Why are you even trying at this point? Just stop. Besides, who wants to be on "that" team that won a World Series in 2020 after playing only 60 games? MVP? Home run champ? RBI winner? Uhhh, nobody?
Basketball - The NBA created a 113-page manual of virus health and safety guidelines for players and personnel so they can play a tournament-style rest of the season in... wait for it... Florida! The minutiae is mind-numbing, including no caddies on the golf course, no sharing snorkels, no doubles ping-pong... a rule for every possible scenario to the point that I wonder if anyone will actually read it. Again, why bother?
Football - The game is all about tackling other guys, not social distancing. So everyone can dog pile on a fumble, but the NFL says players can't exchange jerseys after the game. Can someone please get Dr. Anthony Fauci on the line?
Some argue that developing all these difficult-to-enforce rules is worth it just to get players back on the field or in the arena. Is it? Obviously the athletes are wondering that too, as more are opting out of their seasons. Who can blame them?
And what about the coaches and staff? Makes you wonder whom the professional leagues and team owners are really concerned about. Cha-ching. I think we know.
At first I was all in on sports trying to start up again, desperate for something sports-ish to watch besides reruns of NCAA tournament basketball games from the 1980s. I've gotten to the point now where I'm seriously contemplating becoming a NASCAR fan, one of the only "sports" franchises with actual competitive events. And golf. I've always liked golf, especially when a pro shows that he's an actual human being by hitting a ball straight into the water, or making a double or triple bogey. It makes you appreciate the usual 8-below par rounds even more.
So as much as I want to watch a live baseball, basketball or football game this fall, and appreciate the tortured efforts people have made to try and make this work, it's gotten to a point where everyone should just take their ball and go home for the rest of 2020. This goes for college fall sports too.
From now on, Sunday afternoons will find me glued to the TV watching golf. And NASCAR. And maybe corn-hole tournaments.