In this time of self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, can we live on bread alone, without any sports to spread on it?
All sporting events have been shut down. And I’m going crazy. Because without sports, it’s impossible for me to find refuge, far from people bickering and barking and picking at each other over politics.
My refuge is sports and sports talk radio, where people bicker and bark and pick at each other over sports, and call each other foolish for uttering an idea that challenges their worldview. Hearing talk show hosts insult their listeners over Michael vs. LeBron is idiotic indeed.
But somehow it soothes me.
And now, without real sports to talk about, real games, real playoffs, it’s difficult to listen to. I can only go about five minutes hearing the hand-wringing about the Chicago Bears quarterback soap opera between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles before I give up.
I just switch to political talk, where they’re bickering about coronavirus politics and who’s the GPOAT, Greatest Politician Of All Time.
It’s got to be Julius Caesar, but like many politicians, he was betrayed by his friends in the end.
I already get enough of that through work. Eventually, you reach a saturation point. And I think I’ve overdosed on coronavirus politics and am about to break out in hives.
Or, perhaps I’m getting scurvy, which is what pirates suffered from not eating enough lemons. Or was that potatoes?
Who gives two figs?
Isn’t lowbrow entertainment necessary for a well-ordered society? The Romans understood that. They had gladiators.
“You listen to sports talk?” asked a former English major with one of those self-satisfied intellectual scoffs in his voice, revealing a hidden elitist nature.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.
We all have our fetishes. The poor fellow mocking me about listening to sports talk once foolishly let slip that he secretly watches “Father Brown” on PBS.
I am not mocking the good “Father Brown” or the gentle people who watch it, with their tea and scones. It might be quite entertaining, as the adventures of any gentle, elderly vicar in the PBS English countryside might be entertaining.
It would be really entertaining if it were written by Thackeray or Fielding, and was dripping with sarcasm, sex and oyster references, with violent revenge over bad gambling debts or the questionable parentage of what we once called “foundlings.” That might be of interest.
But it can’t deaden the pain of missing opening day at Soldier Field for the beloved Chicago Fire. Or watching that kid Luis Robert learning to play Major League center field for the White Sox. Yet now, I see headlines about the groundskeeper at Sox Park, “The Sodfather,” and I skip them. It hurts to read.
Call me weird, but I’d rather watch sports than “Downton Abbey” or “The Queen.” Not that you can’t do both. Go right ahead. You can care about mixed martial arts and also love PBS shows about what English people did in the last century, when the classes were strictly defined and the middle class was repressed and the rich were so bored that they succumbed to the addiction of their self-indulgent private intrigues.
Go right ahead, I won’t judge you.
Unfortunately, there are no radio talk shows to hear arguments about what’s on PBS. That’s what we need now, another government-funded radio program with a huge production staff, and programming about “Father Brown,” and inviting callers to ask indelicate questions about the fictional characters.
Without sports, I just might have to dabble in ancient technology and try something called “books on paper.”
I tried to watch replays of the greatest games of all time. But that lasted only a few days. If you’re a sports fan, you know how it ends. And you can only watch so many “30 for 30” ESPN documentaries on sports. I’d recommend “The Two Escobars” about life-or-death soccer in the Colombia of the drug lords; and the one about Cubs fan Steve Bartman in which a devilishly attractive, mild-mannered columnist for a great American newspaper apologizes to Bartman for what happened on that night Cubs fans won’t forget.
But I know how that one ends, too.
Where’s Joe Buck?
If teams aren’t involved, teams of highly specialized savants of their game, is it sport? I’m told that the new modern Americans enjoy sports where they do things on their own, like running.
But can you enjoy watching people run on TV while sitting in a leather chair with a cigar and an 18-year-old Glenmorangie? Can you listen to sports talk shows devoted to runners while driving your car and giving a moutza to idiotic comments?
Me? I’ll wait like an angry barnacle on a ledge to hear those magic words, “Play ball.”