There is playoff hockey on today. And basketball, and baseball, and golf, and probably something I’m accidentally overlooking. Not the classic games that played over and over for months, either. It’s new, live sports. It’s been this way for a couple weeks now.
It’s all so normal. As normal as 2020 is going to allow us to get, anyway.
When sports returned a couple weeks ago, I quietly retired the running Twitter gag that gave me a few chuckles from mid-March to late-July. The almost daily movie in lieu of sports is no more. It served as a noble placeholder, and will be remembered fondly.
I didn’t keep track of every movie in lieu of sports I watched, but it’s at least 112. One hundred and 12 movies where a game could’ve been. One hundred and 12 movies to pass the time.
Coincidentally, only three of the movies was directly about sports, “Ford v Ferrari,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Fast Break.” It wasn’t a conscious decision to avoid sports movies, but maybe my subconscious was making a decision to spare me evenings of longing for the real thing instead of poorly choreographed movie sports. Sports scenes in movies too often look like a copy of a copy.
They started as mindless fun movies in lieu of sports, but after a couple weeks I dropped the mindless fun. That was implied. The don’t make many movies as mindless as “Corky Romano,” John Carpenter’s Vampires,” or “Rescue From Gilligan’s Island.”
There was three James Bond movies (“Tomorrow Never Dies,” “Live and Let Die,” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). There was classic comedy (“Blazing Saddles,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” and “Back To School”). There was horror (“The Thing” and “The Witch”) and thrills (“Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Manchurian Candidate”).
The seasons changed. Winter became spring became summer before sports returned. There was some sports, European soccer matches and Korean pro baseball, but when you’re unfamiliar with the players, it’s difficult to find yourself invested in the result. No offense to the Premier League, but given the choice between that and watching “Dazed and Confused” again, take me back to that last day of school in Austin, Texas in 1976. Alright, alright, alright.
A majority of the movies in lieu of sports were rewatches. When nearly every day introduces a fresh, new catastrophe, familiar is good. Two hours watching a favorite movie is two hours with an old friend. Some not seen in years, like the original “Cape Fear” and “Young Frankenstein,” hold up. Some, like “Lifeforce,” sadly do not.
Now there’s sports. We hope the NHL and NBA bubbles continue to hold back the coronavirus. We hope the outbreaks that hit the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals are contained, and this sprint of an MLB season can be completely played. We hope the NFL just gets off the ground.
For now, sports is on. If it all falls apart though, there’s plenty of movies.