134 dark days in sports

Where were you when the NCAA basketball tournament got cancelled?

134 days. That’s how long America went without being able to sit down and watch any of the four major professional sports. In a matter of a week in March, the world went from watching playoff races in the NBA and NHL to a postponement of both leagues, a cancellation of the March Madness tournament (I’m still not over it) and faced looming concerns over the upcoming MLB season.

For obvious safety reasons, people were stuck inside their homes for days and weeks. However, instead of being able to sit back and watch the Lakers play the Nuggets on a Tuesday night, sports fans were forced to *gasp* talk to their family members and compromise on a new show to binge-watch.

The sports talk shows in the morning were hollow and listless. Sure there was news, but most of it was bad. Watching Sportscenter in the evening was more of the same. Believe or not when a show’s entire premise is to talk about sports and there are no sports on, there is a struggle to find content.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Initially, going just a week without sports was painful. Now, looking back, I am not sure how we made it.

What were sports fans to do? More importantly, what DID we do? For me it is all a blur. Did I read? Did I watch more movies? Did I just sleep the days away and pretend it was not happening? All or none of these could be true. All I know is I missed sports. I completely understood why things were shut down, but that did not help the empty feeling I had.

Constant reruns of classic games played over and over again on the airwaves of sports channels. Sports editors (hey there) were forced to resort to filling their pages with sports movie reviews and board games.

There were tiny rays of light through those 134 days. The NFL draft in early May felt like that first drink of water after coming inside on a hot summer day. Live Tweeting the Last Dance documentary made a lot more fun than it should have been.

However, these were just small stop gaps over that 134-day slog. Finally, mercifully, one day after the NBA bubble scrimmages began, Gerrit Cole and the Yankees squared off against the Washington Nationals on July 23, opening day in the MLB.

The dark cloud was finally gone and pro sports were back. Slowly but surely the MLB returned, then the NBA bubble got in the swing of things, then the NHL and finally the NFL returned.

Was it the same without fans? No, there’s nothing like the roar of a home crowd after a huge play. However, this did not matter. We had made it through the darkest time for sports in history. 134 days. Let’s all agree to never take preseason football for granted again.

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