As an avowed sports junkie I was certainly happy to see the return of the NBA, MLB, PGA, and both college and pro football. The day the Players Championship was cancelled in March was the official start of my lockdown. As a less than fully able person (disabled to most) my movement on any given day did not change a great deal but my background soundtrack did so drastically. With the exception of a three hour window each day that KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) was on via DVR, I was tuned into Animal Planet and “The Secret Life” of every zoo in the world that provided telecasts. I learned minutiae about animals, stored in sometimes retrievable pockets of my mind, that had previously been reserved for baseball and golf minutiae. I was definitely missing my closest friend and the subject that my brother and I could discuss endlessly.
Before I go any further I have to acknowledge the many prayers offered to the millions who have been so tragically had their lives forever changed by Covid-19. I have family members on the front lines in schools, hospitals, and other “essential” jobs. We have not suffered the horrendous loss of life that has impacted so many families. We watch the numbers rise, fall, and now go hyperbolic on a graph and wonder when this will end. It is so easy to miss or even look away from the trainwreck that each number creates inside so many families. Yes, it is the loss of a life partner which I can’t imagine, but each one is also a mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, friend, coworker, and the list could go on endlessly. Everyone of the roughly 245,000 lives lost in the US mean unthinkable impact to tens or even hundreds more. There are also a tremendous number whose mental health have been impacted due to worry for those in ICU beds who do recover. The same is true of lives upended economically and socially that will not recover for many years. The next nine to 24 months may see the lowest birthrates we have seen in the US in more than 100 years at a time when we do not seem to have a collective conscience to replenish our workforce with immigrants.
Now that we have restarted many sports with either no, or much reduced, attendance it has created a strange soundtrack to my afternoons. The morning is reserved for some Zoom meetings and CNBC in my peripheral vision and ear without the airpod. There are many things I miss about the fans (patrons) in attendance. The first and most obvious to me is the need on the part of broadcasters to make their telecasts sound like there are fans – more and louder than has ever been humanly possible before. I agree that only about half of, OK 1/4, of what announcers say needs to be heard but I don’t think I have ever heard the crowd drown out the referee’s explanation of the video review. They may be the loudest at any time in the game immediately after, but not during.
Fortunately, golf broadcasters have not felt the need to give us a recorded “Tiger roar” everytime he tees his ball or an elongated “awwwwwwww” when anyone misses a putt. If not already obvious, golf is my most common soundtrack to my day. It is my norm to watch most of the European Tour and PGA Tour events live (have them tuned in) Thursday through Sunday and then have The LPGA and Champions Tour dvr’ed for Monday through Wednesday. This explains all of that golf minutiae that may or may not be recallable. The Master’s Tournament has been must see TV for me since I started playing golf at about 13 and this week’s edition is a welcome respite from Covid and election news. It is strange to see the fall colors as opposed to the azaleas and dogwoods. It is very noticeable that the Patrons are not in attendance. Having been fortunate enough to attend many times, the roars that reverberate around the course with amazing shots that the players and announcers describe are really indescribable and missed. Conditions are contributing to historically low scores. I have always thought it would be nice to play with bowling style gutter guards to catch all of my “foul” balls with the way crowds stop many shots from going deeper into trouble. Guys hitting errant shots are having to find escape routes from deeper trouble than usual.
Despite the differences, I am happy to have some of my normalcy return. I pray that advances in treatments for Covid will prevent this fall and winter from taking many more people from us too early, both here and around the world. Maybe by the time for the Masters next April, we will all know much more of our normalcy thanks to a safe and effective vaccine. I know I will miss some of our larger family gatherings during the holidays and I hope others will realize having many more beginning in 2021, especially those with underlying conditions such as mine, will be prudent and make a one year sacrifice.