My friends, I can’t believe I am saying this, in a sports column, after all we’ve been through these past six months, after crawling out of the no-sports desert of the spring and early summer, but here goes:
There are too many sports right now.
Yeah. I said it. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m overwhelmed. I’m guessing everyone who loves sports is overwhelmed. It’s the middle of September, and we are amid the wildest smorgasbord of sporting events in the history of sports. I know that sounds like the sort of nonsense hyperbole sportswriters say, but it’s actually true. There are now days when there are games and events from the NFL, college football, the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, WNBA, Premier League, F1, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, Nascar, cricket, boxing, bass fishing, and on and on and on.
Don’t yell at me if I missed your favorite sport. I am sure I missed your favorite sport. I’m probably forgetting like 600 sports, because it seems like every league on earth is playing—except for, you know, the Big Ten.
And now there are rumblings the Big Ten is considering coming back.
Folks! Settle down. Get in line.
I love it, but it’s too much. The calendar is cuckoo. A reader emailed to tell me that on Sunday, bizarrely, the Jets and the Mets played games in Buffalo (baseball’s Blue Jays are spending the season in upstate New York; the Jets were thumped by the Bills). Here in New York City, we just finished the U.S. Open in tennis—now comes the U.S. Open in golf, up the road at Winged Foot in Westchester. They just ran the Kentucky Derby. There’s a Tour de France, and in a couple of weeks, the French Open. The Masters is in November.
I need to lie down. It’s impossible to keep track of. My television just pulled a hamstring.
Last week I got a couple of angry notes from folks mad the Journal neglected covering Dustin Johnson’s victory in golf’s big-check FedEx Cup. Neglected? I had no idea the FedEx Cup was happening! Mea culpa. Sorry Dustin! I’ll catch you in 2021!
You know how, back in the old days, when we could go to crowded restaurants, you’d occasionally sit down at a table, wait a half-hour for a menu, see the orders stacked up like a blizzard on the chef’s station, watch the chef quit in a huff, the dishwasher step in at the grill, and realize that the place was completely swamped?
SPORTS IS THAT RESTAURANT!
Even the people who say they are boycotting sports are complaining—it’s a lot of boycotting to keep track of. You never know when you might turn on the TV and accidentally watch a game.
Remember the tumbleweeds of April? Don’t get me wrong—April was a terrible crisis, let’s not repeat that again. But sports was MIA. People were watching grainy old George Gervin and Roger Staubach games. They were racing their pets in their hallway, just for action. Gamblers were gambling on the weather. When Korean baseball showed up, we threw a parade.
We were starving and desperate. We begged sports to resume. We got excited when Dana White teased “Fight Island.” Now the schedule is packed, completely out of control. I watched “SportsCenter” the other night. The host, Scott Van Pelt, looked like one of those guys in the Coney Island hot-dog eating contest. I wanted to fetch him a glass of water and a bucket.
The return of the NFL really sent it over the edge. You know how presumptuous the NFL is. Sports were already busy enough, but then the NFL puffed out its chest, marched into the living room, put up a tent and lit a flare. I’m baaaaaccck!! the NFL said. Now you can’t go anywhere without hearing someone yapping underneath their face mask about their crummy fantasy team.
I thought it would be weird that there are no fans, that it might take a little enthusiasm away from the experience. And you know what? It is weird. The TV ratings are funky. But sports are still playing. Nonstop. All the time.
Now the Big Ten is reportedly mulling a return. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have taken a lot of guilt-tripping over the past month since canceling their fall seasons for coronavirus concerns. Now they’re experiencing one of the saddest cases of FOMO in sports history. Watching the ACC and Big 12 this weekend must have sent them over the edge.
Fine. Take a number. Knock yourself out. Come back.
I don’t want to sound like a whiner. This sports surge has put me back in business. I don’t know what I would have done if I had to write about social distancing and virtual school for another six months. Please know: I’m still social distancing. I have two kids at home, virtual schooling, possibly until the year 3000. It’s completely the pits.
But now there’s sports on TV, morning to midnight. Is it too much of a good thing? I don’t have any time to answer that question. There’s another game on.
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Write to Jason Gay at Jason.Gay@wsj.com
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Appeared in the September 15, 2020, print edition as ‘There Is a Historic Overload of Games.’