So I felt that we needed an update here on the Which Carolina Blog, now that action has resumed and we have real, tangible sports to consume and enjoy. These last few months have been incredibly difficult for so many, and we are not immune. We all enjoyed the novelty of live sports’ reintroduction into our lives in July, but August has kicked off what may prove to be one of the most fertile sports entertainment landscapes we’ll ever witness. So dive in with me to recap and preview the ecstasy, intrigue, elation and trepidation of the month of August, 2020.
The NBA is back, and my goodness, this isn’t your grandfather’s NBA action! The bubble NBA has been spectacular NBA basketball. Whether due to more rest, more focus, more space without fans crowding the court, or just being under the national spotlight with other professional leagues sputtering their post-COVID starts… the NBA restart has been much-watch TV from the opening tip. As a working middle-class US citizen, the opportunity to watch NBA basketball at 1pm until clock-out every day is a tantalizing proposition! The quality of basketball in the NBA restart has been enough to captivate even the casual NBA fan (I don’t care what the neilson ratings say, the NBA restart has been a success).
Stars have come to play, young talents have taken their opportunities to elevate their games, and storylines have written themselves. Luka, Dame, Booker, the shooting star that was TJ Warren… and we JUST started the playoffs! We’re almost a week into playoff action, and I’ve rarely been locked in to all 8 playoff matchups the way I am right now! Let’s be honest, when you’ve got playoff basketball from 1pm to 1130 pm every night? Even in the Covid era, there’s not a lot to complain about.
We just got to witness a rising star in the world of golf achieve his first major victory in Colin Morikawa. The NHL playoffs are off to an awesome start in their bubbles (although it stinks the Canes bowed out to the Bruins). We’ve got 2 more major golf tournaments, including a FALL MASTERS(!!!), and if MLB players will stop going to gentlemen clubs, we’ll have a world series winner crowned in baseball this fall. There’s a LOT to like about the upcoming condensed fall sports season, so let's all hope we get to enjoy it fully.
As much as I hate to admit it, football as we know it, is a pipe dream this fall. I have no doubt that the NFL will have a season, but it’s more than likely we finish the season with multiple teams playing less than 16 games, backups starting at meaningful positions for significant portions of the seasons, and some of the best players in the league opting out before the season even begins. Even for me, one of the most enthusiastic fantasy football fans in the business, building excitement for this season seems to be an exercise in futility.
I don’t wish for this season to be a bust. On the contrary, I’d love nothing more than a Fall season that includes the NBA playoffs, NCAA football, NFL, NHL playoffs, Major Tournaments in Golf, and just in case there’s a break in the action, some MLB baseball. But with this virus sustaining and still attacking the US population, I think we will be robbed of at least one of these events as the Fall plods along. The most likely of these being NCAA football, which has presented a fragmented plan among major conferences regarding how to best implement a season for the Fall of 2020. The SEC, Big 12, ACC, and last but not least, the AAC, have reportedly decided to go forward with a fall football season, but with ballooning COVID numbers on college campuses and throughout the US, it seems more an inevitability that we’re limping towards a cancelled football season.
I’m intrigued to learn how these college football programs are supposed to implement a safe football season with the travel requirements, team/support staff size, and unpredictability of college student behavior leaving more questions than answers going into the 2020 college football season.
The NBA lottery just happened. It was incredible. Despite lacking the pomp and circumstance of most NBA Draft lottery shows, if you’re a Charlotte Hornets fan, this was the most spectacular lottery in recent memory (at least since the bobcats were thrust into our lives). Charlotte was elevated into the 3rd spot in the NBA draft, which opens a world of possibilities, albeit in arguably the least top loaded draft in the last 8-10 years. For the many Hornets fans still reeling from watching Anthony Davis slip through our fingers to New Orleans, this represents one of the most promising storylines we could hope for in the beehive. Obi Toppin? James Wiseman? Onyeka Okongwu? Devi Avidja? So many possibilities, we’ll have until October 16th to debate!!
Completely unrelated to sports. The effects of COVID-19 are apparent everywhere we look. Despite the attempts to make this year feel more normal, and with stores, entertainment, sports, restaurants, and businesses reopening rapidly, the threat of this virus continues to loom over us. With each step forward, we mourn someone we’ve lost to this horrible disease. Businesses re-open, then are forced to shut down again as employees get sick or are exposed to the virus. Unfortunately, this is the new normal. We’re all tired of wearing masks (my ears and nose can attest), of elbow bumping rather than shaking hands, or meeting up with friends and waving rather than hugging...but please continue to be safe and keep making these sacrifices. There is so much we don’t know about this virus, the long term effects of victims, and exactly how many people have been afflicted. Being foolish in this time of uncertainty, and putting yourself and others at risk means putting yourself on the wrong side of history.
I go to work every day, wear my mask, wash my hands, and interact with 50+ different people daily, and do it safely thanks to the care that I take. Wearing a mask works. Be respectful of others. Handwashing is effective. This won’t last forever.
Thanks for reading. Be safe. And enjoy all the sports that August has in store for us.