The Loop

Is this the hardest week to care about sports in 15+ years?

November 02, 2020

Jamie Sabau

I'm writing this just a few hours after Brian Gay won the Bermuda Championship, a tournament I watched and enjoyed. A lovely respite from...well, you know. But it was my last gasp. Even though thinking about sports is a big part of my job, I'm not going to be able to hack it from now until at least Saturday. I'll still tune in, mind you. I'll still write, and I'll force myself to focus when I absolutely must. But my brain? My brain will be miles away.

I know I'm not alone. The hearts and minds of the entire country are now fixated on the stupid oppressive election, and it's impossible to create mental bandwidth for anything else. Earlier this weekend, I got so deep into the polling on FiveThirtyEight that I briefly forgot I had a family.

Which got me wondering: Is this the hardest time to watch sports this year? This decade? (Oh wait, this year is this decade. Crap.) Last decade too? Obviously, we've had tragic moments in recent American history that make our election-related stresses look very small and put sports in its proper perspective. 9/11, for instance, dwarfs any of this. Let me go squarely on the record: I am not comparing the 2020 election to 9/11. That would be moronic, and also I don't want to get canceled. But since we're on the topic, is this a low moment for sports engagement since...oh, let's say 2005?

I say yes. First off, national elections are usually the most attention-capturing spectacles in American life, and the phenomenon is exaggerated to grotesque proportions in 2020. Don't worry, I'm not going to get all political on you, but suffice it to say that there are many Americans who have been waiting four years for this election, and the country has become so insanely polarized that most of us hate each other's guts. All of that anticipation, and all of that animosity, is set to culminate on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and I think it's fair to say the 2020 version is even more distracting than the ones that came before.

Secondly, as I've written, it's become harder to care about sports in the first place during this pandemic. The reasons are hard to put a finger on—we're stuck inside, so in theory we should care more than ever—but the trend is reflected both anecdotally and statistically.

Finally, we're in a lull even by 2020 standards. A lull within a lull. The NBA Finals, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup Finals are over, and they all happened around the same time. Normally at this time of year, you'd have both basketball and hockey starting up, baseball just ending, and football in full swing. Now, in team sports, we only have football, and games are getting canceled left and right because of COVID—a situation, looking at the current numbers, that only promises to get worse. Tennis is basically done for the year beyond tabloid stories of Sasha Zverev's personal life, and only golf (the best sport of the pandemic, in my humble and biased opinion) has something enticing to offer in the coming days, with a November Masters.

Considering those three fundamental factors—the attention-consuming election, the general apathy COVID has introduced, and the double lull—I think we have more than enough evidence to declare this week the most fallow sports period in recent memory. Committing mental energy is impossible, which is why you have people like me writing sports articles that aren't even about sports. Folks, this is rock bottom.

All that being said? I don't want it to be this way. I am not looking forward to Tuesday. I will get swept up like everyone else, but the minute it's over, I want to forget that politics even exists. Ideally forever. Which leads me to my final, desperate plea:

Bryson DeChambeau, do something batshit crazy on Wednesday morning around 9 a.m. If you're feeling uninspired, I have a few suggestions. Please, big fella, we need this.

"Okay, Fine, Here's Some Sports" Highlight of the Week: Patriot Schadenfreude

Recently, I wrote about how some Carolina Panthers fans have decided to keep supporting Cam Newton even though he plays for the demonstrably evil New England Patriots, and why this is an enormous mistake. Well, if you're not one of the Cam Cultists—i.e., if you're a normal and sane person who wants to see him fail now that he's one of Bill Belichick's imperial soldiers—then boy do I have the clip for you. In the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills, trailing 24-21, the Pats were marching down the field ready, as ever, to deliver heartbreak. At this point in the NFL, it's the closest thing to a foregone conclusion that they'll triumph in situations like these. Instead, behold:


Sorry. I'm okay. The failure of my enemies is all I have left. Even if I have trouble caring about sports this week, I'll go back to this clip when I need it. It will sustain me in a cold, dark world.