Everyone’s a Winner: How to Enjoy Sports When There Are No Sports

No sporting events to watch? No problem: the author shares his secret method to enjoy sports like never before!

I knew I’d reached my pandemic breaking point when I found myself watching a rebroadcast of a quarterfinal Wimbledon tennis match from 2014. My glassy-eyed TV viewing told me it was time to take drastic action.

For weeks, I’d been telling myself that I was handling this crisis. Despite a lack of live sporting events on television, I was convinced that I was managing my addiction well and was coping OK with what had been an unplanned instant withdrawal.

enjoy sports
Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1993.

For the first few days, I managed to deal with the absence of games with no obvious signs. I guess the overwhelming COVID-19 news coverage kept me occupied and I didn’t think too much about the basketball, hockey and baseball games I was missing.

After the first week, however, it became apparent that this pandemic thing was no flash in the pan and that we were in for months of no sporting events. That’s when I started to weaken.

First, I turned to sports talk shows where hosts and guests valiantly continued to argue about draft picks, playoff prognostications and trade rumors as if nothing had happened.

But teams wouldn’t be back in action soon and, in fact, the sporting horizon looked awfully bleak as far as the eye could see with the cancelling of Wimbledon, the Tour de France and even the Summer Olympics.

I vowed to carry on regardless and knew what I had to do to enjoy sports once again: start watching rebroadcasts of past games even if this was anathema to my belief that sports watching meant not knowing the outcome.

For a couple of weeks, this substitute sufficed as I relived past playoff games and championship matches. It even allowed me to re-watch the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup victory in 1993 as if for the first time.

But I knew this couldn’t work forever. Like a heroin addict on methadone, I was missing the addictive live-action highs that I had been experiencing for years.

I kept looking for more and more obscure old sporting contests that I could pretend were live events. Soccer matches from years ago, long-forgotten golf tournaments from the previous millennium and even bowling competitions from God knows when.

And that’s how I ended up glassy-eyed on the sofa trying to enjoy sports by watching an ancient Wimbledon tennis match that even the two competitors had probably already forgotten. Surely there had to be a better solution and luckily there was.

The various professional leagues may have packed it in for now but, thanks to my imagination, I don’t have to. For example, I get to play out the balance of the NHL season in my mind in any way I choose.

At this point, I have my cellar-dwelling Ottawa Senators making the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and facing the mighty Boston Bruins in the first round. I think you know how that’s going to play out in what some might call my Cinderella scenario culminating in a Stanley Cup win.

The beauty of this approach is that I can apply it to whatever sporting event I want. I’m already planning the Toronto Raptors’ repeat path to the NBA championship and Milos Raonic’s long-awaited Grand Slam victory at The Championships.

What’s particularly appealing about this option is that everyone gets the result they want. If you’re a Montreal Canadiens fan or a Boston Celtics follower, you can create your own personal path to a championship. Heck, as far as I know, it should work even if you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns or the New York Knicks.

So forget about the shutdown of professional leagues and join me in a personal quest for sporting success. Who knows? This plan may be so successful that we’ll never have to watch the real games again.

David Martin

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