Just how badly do we want to see our Winnipeg pro sports teams play?
It’s a crazy question to ask for a guy who has spent most of his 45-year broadcasting career (and then some) covering sports. But as the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic continues, and the debate rages on over what’s right and what’s wrong — fueled by a society that has developed a need-to-know mentality — do we maybe have to step back, take ten deep breaths, and figure out what’s really important?
In a perfect world, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would be off to a 1-0 start after a season-opening win in Hamilton, (as per the original CFL schedule) and using the bye week to prepare to send a message to Calgary in next Friday’s home opener and Grey Cup ceremony at IG Field.
By this time, Winnipegers should already have been relishing a win, and agonizing over an excruciating loss, during the Jets NHL playoff run. Valour FC would be a couple of months into their “redemption” season in the Canadian Premier League, and the Goldeyes would be just nicely into their 2020 American Association campaign, also looking to bounce back from a rare non-playoff year.
Instead, the Blue Bombers have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for any kind of opportunity to share good news with their players and fans about a 2020 season. The Jets are supposed to be getting ready for training camp next month and a re-start to their playoff quest sometime in late July or early August. But that postseason run will take place at a distance in Vegas, or Edmonton, or Toronto, or wherever.
Valour could be in Charlottetown, or the extreme opposite end of the country in Victoria for a CPL tournament that will have to suffice. The Fish will play a dramatically reduced schedule — out of Fargo of all places– with 24 of their 60 games against the RedHawks, which might get a little monotonous.
But hovering over all of that is the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus that we have come to know — and in some cases grudgingly accept — all too well.
Friday, five players and three staff members of the MLB Philadelphia Phillies were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus at the team’s spring training facility in Clearwater, Fla. Less than an hour away, the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning had to close down their training facility after three players tested positive, along with two other members of the organization.
Is this what we really want?
We hear there could be more concerning results from the Arizona Coyotes, although we won’t know for sure because the NHL is not going to identify which teams are involved in positive tests anymore.
I love sports. I love talking about sports. I even enjoy occasionally being told how little I know about sports on social media. But I am not a casual observer — I am all in when it comes to watching athletes compete at all levels.
But I’m also a realist. And what’s going on in the United States right now, especially in Florida, Texas, Arizona — well it’s frightening.
Even here in Manitoba, we have seen an “oh so” slight increase of positive cases with 11 in the last nine days after just two in the previous 10 days. It’s certainly not a sign that we need to crawl back into self-isolation and shutter everything up again, but a reminder that the “instance over distance” should be maintained.
If the Blue Bombers, Jets, Valour, and the Goldeyes still feel the need to play, then who are we to criticize that? Carry on. But if they or their leagues say no, or have that decision made for them by someone in a position of higher authority — then please, can we just deal with it? With a minimum of moaning and groaning, finger-pointing and blaming?
If not, I know this real estate agent who has some prime swamp land in Florida.
Kelly Moore is the sports director and assistant brand director at Global News Radio 680 CJOB.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.