Daniel Mayes: How I'm pretending sports are still a thing amid COVID-19

Daniel Mayes

So, how do I cope with this?

This, an admittedly extremely trivial, first-world problem.

Among the countless more-serious side effects brought on by the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), and the subsequent shelter-in-place advisories is one matter that hits close to home, especially when I'm home a lot.

Where are the sports?

I love sports enough to be involved in sports for a living.

I was definitely a fan of attending games, watching them on television and listening to sports podcasts during most of my waking hours before I got a job that made those activities essential. So what do I do now when those beloved distractions are taken off the table?

Well, for the most part, I've stuck to pretending like they aren't. I'll often find myself throwing old sports highlights from YouTube up on the TV while I'm doing something else just to get that familiar drone of broadcasters in the background.

These videos all have titles that are something like "Top 25 Sports Moments To Get You Through Self-Quarantine For 15 minutes," and they're great.

I've also taken to, when I have a little more time on my hands, rewatching memorable games. I'm a big NBA fan, and I recently watched game six of the 2013 finals, where Ray Allen hit a back-pedaling 3-pointer to save the Miami Heat from losing the title to the San Antonio Spurs. Allen was a favorite player of mine growing up, as the pictures of me in the background sitting on the bench in high school hoops in a 34 jersey can attest.

When those already-decided outcomes of games aren't doing the trick, I turn to the wonderful world of digital simulation!

The good folks over at the college basketball site on Reddit (r/CollegeBasketball) are running a simulation of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament on the peak of modern simulation technology: a 12-year-old college basketball video game. Each team has custom rosters reflecting this past season's players, and the games are streamed for everyone to see. The simulated Final Four -- BYU, Gonzaga, Seton Hall and West Virginia -- are set to take the virtual court this weekend. If you squint hard enough, you can almost trick yourself into halfway believing there is a real March Madness.

I also recently bought a much newer video game, "NBA 2K20", to pass the time. I've jumped into the "MyCareer" mode, which lets you create a player and play out an NBA career individually.

I'm the only slightly taller and more athletic than myself point guard for the Toronto Raptors.

I've also taken the time to get more into sports that I haven't paid as much attention to.

Hockey has always been the one sport that I sort of keep up with, but the one that gets sacrificed when I have to do uncomfortable things like "have a life" and "talk to other people."

Now that those things are less common, hockey is finding its time to shine. On more than one occasion, my wife has walked downstairs to find me asleep with hockey highlights on TV.

"You've been really into hockey lately," she'll say, wondering why.

Quarantine, that's why.

When this is over, I'm going to the ball field.

Y'all meet me there, OK?

Daniel Mayes is the Daily Citizen-News sports editor. Reach him at danielmayes@dailyciti zen.news.

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