Chips and dip? Check.
Vegetable tray? Check.
Meat cooking on the grill? Of course..
Beer in one hand, remote in the other? Duh.
Best friends together, rooting for our team to select the next NFL MVP….
Not this year.
This is the year of Covid19. A time when we, together, stay home and isolate to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This shut down businesses, restaurants, theaters, and worst of all for me, sports.
The ultimate reality show was ripped from our lives at a terrible time. The NCAA Basketball Final Four was cancelled. Opening Day in Baseball, gone. The 2020 summer Olympics were delayed a year. NBA playoffs? No plans yet. Sporting events with fans in the stands probably won’t happen anytime soon. Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly watch another episode of “Tiger King” on Netflix, the NFL swooped in and saved us. There will be a televised NFL draft in 2020. The dark cloud over my head suddenly lifted. We will have something to look forward to.
The NFL Draft has become the Super Bowl in the spring. Hundreds of thousands of fans flock to the city that hosts the draft. It’s a carnival atmosphere, where fans gather and party, hoping to witness their teams’ pick the next Pat Mahomes, or Tom Brady. Endless podcasts and sports talk radio stations post their mock drafts from the day after the Super Bowl. They tinker with their “boards” from the Senior Bowl, to the combine, to individual pro days until the day before the annual NFL Draft. Every year, their picks aren’t really that close to reality. So why do people do this? Because Football fans simply love it. Along with possible bragging rights for having correct picks, they imagine the promise their teams’ could have if they just selected the “right guy.” This is exactly why this sport is talked about 365 days a year.
This year was like no other. Crowds of fans and potential NFL players were replaced by video of front office personnel and coaches on small, individual screens from their living rooms at home. Without all the hoopla and all the incredible TV production, the 2020 NFL Draft was the most watched draft ever. According to the NFL, 55 million people watched the draft this weekend, smashing the record from last year by 35%. The ratings rise every year, but this year there was something different.
Covid19 became a global pandemic, which has kept us locked up inside our houses, isolated from the world, for the past 6 weeks. Life is stalled. Every day seems just like the one before it. It’s hard to even look forward to anything, because whatever plans we have might not happen due to Covid19. The 2020 NFL Draft was the one exception. A couple of weeks ago, the NFL decided to go on with the draft via conference call. Personally I jumped up and down. We finally have a sporting event to look forward to. Something to make 3 days feel different than all the rest. Sports were back, and fans could finally analyze their teams’ decisions, discuss whether they won or lost the draft, and unite on call-in shows, on sports blogs and podcasts, to share their opinions with other sports fans.
This may come off as corny, but for a glorious three days, I felt like we were back to normal. The America I knew before the virus was finally back. Then came Saturday evening.
The draft got me so excited about the next season, and then I realized that the NFL season may not even happen, or might be shortened. The same could happen to all sports, college and professional.
That’s when I realized I had taken sports for granted. I had taken a lot for granted before the national quarantine. Sports are simply a reality show, although a very important part of the American culture. Whenever we beat this virus and sports comes back on our TV’s and our stadiums, let’s remember who got us here. Health care workers, police and fireman, the post office, grocery store workers and all other essential workers showed up when the rest of us couldn’t. Instead of screaming at the TV when your teams’ field goal kicker blows the game, try to remember and thank those who may not have kept our days from being repetitive, but ultimately kept our days from ending.