Sports: Do you really miss it?

Do you miss sports? No, seriously, think about it for a bit.

The default answer for many of us is “HECK YES I MISS SPORTS!” But then, as sports have returned during this pandemic, many of us have opted out of watching them again. Or, at least, watching as much of them as we did in 2019. 

TV ratings are down across the board. Even the undefeated champion of drawing eyeballs to TV sets - the NFL - has seen a drop of more than 10-percent in viewership.

The screwed up scheduling caused by quarantines is a big reason for the drop in TV viewers.

While some Trumpists will blame the decline on various athletes speaking out for social justice, The Masters saw its worst TV ratings since the 1950s and I don’t remember Dustin Johnson kneeling during an anthem. The Kentucky Derby had half the viewers of just a year ago, no doubt due to several horses’ support of Black Lives Matter I guess. 

Our entire lives, the rhythms and schedules of sports have been ingrained into us. That’s why World Series games in November, Super Bowls in February and March Madness games in April are still just plain weird. It’s also part of the reason why people’s fandom has waned as sports returned. 

The bigger question is whether we will return to watching sports when things return to whatever “normal” is after vaccines are widely distributed. 

For more than 260 days, we’ve been reshaping every aspect of our lives. Behavioral scientists say it takes just more than two months (not 30 days) to build new habits. Some things people started doing during the pandemic are now deeply grooved into their lives. Likewise, old habits have become dislodged. 

In the Before Times, going to a sports bar and watching a ballgame might have been Option A for a Saturday. Now, it’s been replaced with going hiking or home improvement projects or Zooming with distant friends or relatives. 

So, all things being equal, do you really miss sports? Or have you found a replacement habit that fills that void?

Your 2020 Champions Are The Chanticleers

A game that wasn’t supposed to be played turning into the Game of the Year is very on brand for 2020. 

With a game against Liberty scuttled by Covid, No. 18 Coastal Carolina pivoted to inviting No. 13 BYU for a game. The undefeated Cougars were heavy favorites, but undefeated Coastal won 22-17 by getting a stop at the 1 as time expired. 

Being outside the Power 5 conferences, of course, means Coastal won’t get a shot at getting into the playoffs. But who cares? The Chanticleers (and BYU) won the season by being bold enough to schedule a last-minute game that exceeded all expectations. 

Won’t You Be My Neighbors?

No. 16 Arkansas beat No. 4 Baylor, 83-78, last weekend. It was the first time the women had beaten a top-5 team since 2003. Since March Madness was Covid-ed last season, Baylor is still the defending champion and it was the first time Arkansas beat the title holders since 1996. 

While Eric Musselman and Sam Pittman get most of the fans attention, Mike Neighbors deserves a lot of praise. He has resurrected a program that was kneecapped by the inept Jimmy Dykes.