By Peter Lederman
As Bob Dylan once said “I got a hole where my stomach disappeared.” Yep, amongst other notable things, they took SPORTS away from me some time in late March and the tell-tale chasm it left has been quite canyonish. I’m even making up words so my busybody auto format tells me.
Although they (I’m using “they” in a conspiratorial sense, which is probably not fair but does make me feel better ‘cause it connotes an evil knowledge of me that is even more malicious than Covid-19) took it away piecemeal, it wasn’t too long before it was all gone. By all I mean both the playing of sport and the watching of sport.
The first blow landed when our bi-weekly joyous pickleball games at the wondrous warm and friendly Andes Central School gym had to be stopped when the school rightly closed.
Then they cancelled March Madness which is a two week college basketball fiesta that for sports fans means several things: Four Thursday-thru-Sunday 1/2 weeks of progressively exciting competition; The possibilities of a team ranked 16th in a region of the country upsetting a 1st ranked team which is tantalizing and very rarely happens (I hope my readers remember my Davey and Goliath reference in my first column); a final weekend of frenzied excitement and finally the end of Winter.
Then, one by one, all the professional sports were stopped as one basketball player got the virus and no one wanted to play with him after Covid-19. Closing professional sports from car racing, to golf and then baseball, the American Holy Grail, was a multi-billion dollar decision smartly made.
Where did this leave fans? Well my wife and I have taken to watching old tennis matches where we know who won, listening to sports talk shows where even the talkers aren’t there, and re-watching Victory, a movie where Pele and Sylvester Stallone are both somehow together as prisoners in a Nazi prison camp with a bunch of British officers and are able at the end to not only tie a loaded German soccer team, with a cheating referee, (a win would have been a little unbelievable) but to escape from the game hidden by a swarming crowd of French partisans and fans singing La Marseillaise. A great film and by the way I have never ever seen a sports film I didn’t love; a topic for another day. This is all an inadequate dose of sports Methadone for a much worse addiction.
In closing I would like to mention, and you can easily look it up, that in Italy there was a rather long-time mediocre team from the town of Bergamo, called Atalanta, that worked its way into the Champions League competition for a first time this year and its fans, having to choose between not attending a quarter-final game and risking what was then just the incipient beginnings of the virus, filled the stadium. Atalanta won the round, the fans swarmed the field, hugging and dancing with each other in a wild celebration that is now being seen as ground zero for the viral disaster that has been Italy. Sports: live with it, die with it! I hear they are showing live Korean baseball tonight…. yippee!~