Padecky: Imagination, memories vital as our beloved sports go silent
We now are stuck with what our imagination allows us.
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford so deft aglove he picks up a grounder like he was picking a flower, imagining Brandon would make a great pickpocket.
We are sitting in the stands and we scream like our hair is on fire because our son just kicked the winning goal in the best soccer game ever, a bicycle kick that would have made Pele proud.
We grab a Guinness, tip the glass toward our buddy, and stare at the bar television, as we wonder how in the heck Steph Curry made that last shot which came, it seemed, from Iceland.
Folks, that’s what we are left with. Our imagination. We now live in a sports world with nothing to see, to cheer, to discuss. Yes, I can hear the giggles. No sports? Oh, poor baby. Must be hard to put away that drool cup. Must be hard to know you now have to speak in complete sentences with words longer than two syllables. Must be hard to accept the fact you now have to think like a grownup.
Bull feathers, I say, stretching your imagination on what bull feathers might look like. Bull feathers. Sports in America is more than a curiosity, or a coffee break, an amusement, something to do besides watching the cat cough up a hairball.
“When March Madness was canceled,” said Dr. Lauren Morimoto, a Sonoma State sociology professor with an emphasis on the role of sports plays in this country, “it was a wakeup call for a lot of people that, wow, this coronavirus needs to be taken seriously.”
The gasps, the stares, the questions, the anger, the stuttering to make sense of it, all of it surfaced at once just a week ago. The NCAA shut down the basketball tournament. It’s as close to a seismic jolt as we’ll ever see in the industry. Why? Because of the very thing that influences sports today. The Money. Truckloads of it. Pffftt! Gone.
The American Gaming Association estimates that 149 million brackets were filled by 40 million people with $8.5 billion bet on the 2019 tournament. The AGA estimated one of five Americans bet on March Madness last year. Let’s not forget CBS and Turner Sports pay $800 million a year to televise the tournament.
“It’s people getting together, at the office, at a sports bar,” Morimoto said. “Some brackets are made not to make a killing but rather for the social aspect. Sports brings people together.”
Ever sit in the stands at a game, no matter what level, and know you’re next to someone you otherwise have nothing in common? But humans are herd animals. We like groups. We like gatherings. We accept our differences, even the huge ones, because we’re there for the 49ers or Cal or Newman.
“In sports, we become a part of a tribe,” Dr. Morimoto said.
That’s why the Stanford band performance may not sell out but the Stanford football team will. Like it or not, and many don’t. Misplaced values. Wrong emphasis to societal impact. Rooting for a team is incredibly important? How can that be, say those who view sports as wretched excess, just a cheap excuse to buy overpriced beer?