By Dan Bernstein–
It was strange for the inveterate sports consumer yesterday, as we faced our first Sunday since the summer without NFL football. I kept checking my watch throughout the morning out of habit, counting down to a kickoff that wouldn’t be.
Like an amputee feeling phantom sensations from the missing limb, I floated through the day feeling like I should be turning the TV on – picking up the remote every once in a while, only to set it down unused.
Books, crosswords, third-grade science test prep and internet news updates from Cairo eventually gave way, however, to the NHL All-star game.
That had to have set some kind of unofficial record for the speed at which novelty wears off. I lasted all of a period before feeling like an idiot for bothering. Skilled players scrimmaged half-assedly through and endless parade of odd-man rushes and 21 goals. I didn’t know who half the players were, and they all seemed to be wearing the same uniform number. I think one of the goalies was talking on the air while playing.
Part of me knew the NFL’s Pro Bowl was on later, but I truly forgot to watch. I have not seen a down of that game since I was a little kid counting Bears, because it just makes you crave actual football even more. Millionaires convene in Hawaii to drink, then waltz around for a few hours in an apparent effort to squeeze in just a little more potential brain damage before the off-season.
Hockey, football and basketball are true team sports where defense and toughness win titles and define identities. Seeing great players engaged in a lesser version of the game is pointless and unfulfilling. Only baseball is able to retain any actual quality, and even MLB needed artifice to give fans a vested interest in the action or the outcome.
These affairs, I have realized, relate to me exactly as does cotton candy. Every once in a while (usually at a baseball game or local carnival), the freshly-spun cloud of sugar looks good. So I get it, indulging a whim, knowing I’ll end up handing it to the kids after a couple bites. Which always happens, because cotton candy is pointless, unfulfilling, and pretty much sucks.
The only difference is that the NHL and NBA All-Star games and the Pro Bowl don’t leave me with a blue tongue and my fingers stuck together. At least I don’t think they do.
There must be enough who disagree with me to keep these events going. The viewership must be high enough, the tickets and merchandise selling well enough, and the leagues’ data showing a net positive for marketing, exposure and brand-building, if not just profit.
You can have them.
All it took was one Sunday without our comically-overwrought Bears emotion to make me appreciate it.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM.
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