Matt’s Musings: Not having sports sucks, but at least we get this out of it

Matt Singer | Sports Columnist

I haven’t been particularly loving quarantine. I miss school, my friends, my independence and, of course, my clothes. I’m doing laundry like every four days. It’s a pain.

I also miss sports an inexplicable amount. Sports are such a ubiquitous presence in our lives that being without them is like being without TV or movies. It especially sucks because we are all stuck at home with little to do. Like many of you, much of my identity is based around watching grown adults dress up in matching outfits and try to kick/throw/catch/hit a ball, and without sports, a hole has developed inside me. I’m so desperate for sports to return, I would jump at the opportunity to watch J.R. Smith play Nick Young in a curling matchup (actually though, can we make this happen).

Ultimately, the state of the sports is irrelevant in the face of a pandemic, but that does not make me (or you) miss them any less. So I have decided to venture somewhere I rarely go, a place that is practically foreign to me: positive thinking. Yes, I, Matthew Singer, cynic extraordinaire, have decided to look on the bright side. And you know what? It’s not so bad! And I actually think I may have found a few things to get excited about in the future.

I love nothing more in sports than international competitions. People from all over the convening in one place to watch athletes compete for their home nations in various competitions and seeing fans vie with each other while expressing various levels of nationalism. It’s really fun. This summer, we were supposed to get the Olympics as well as two major international soccer competitions: the UEFA European Championship (Euros) and Copa America. Now, we get none of that. To say the least: This is not ideal.

But there is a silver lining. With all three competitions getting pushed back to next summer, 2021-2022 might be the best time for international sports ever. In June 2021, the Euros and Copa America will begin play. All the best teams in the world play in either Europe or South America, so while it won’t quite match a World Cup, it will be quite close. Plus, there are two trophies. Then, in early July 2021, the CONCACAF Gold Cup will begin play! We’ll get the opportunity to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team look really good at times before mostly remaining disjointed and eventually losing to Mexico in the final. Fun! The UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 also starts in July, beginning right around the end of its male counterpart. Europe has by far the most depth of any women’s soccer confederation, so this should be a highly competitive and exciting tournament. It is slated to take place in England, who made the semifinals of the World Cup in 2019. The Netherlands, runners-up in the World Cup, won this competition in 2017. Germany and France should both also be real contenders.

Then, starting in late July, we get the crown jewel of international competition: the Summer Olympics. Ah, the Olympics. It’s the one time every four five years where we all become fans of discus and synchronized swimming before forgetting about them until the next Olympics. And don’t forget about the opening ceremonies, always a spectacular display of the host city’s culture, from Beijing’s drummers to Queen Elizabeth(’s stunt double) parachuting into the Olympic Stadium to Gisele catwalking across an entire stadium. And of course, here in the United States, we get to enjoy it all on tape delay while Hoda Kotb and Meredith Vieira drunkenly ogle the fit athletes. It’s a good time. Nothing really compares to the Olympics when it comes to iconic moments: Jesse Owens defeating the concept of a master race in Berlin 1936; Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists for Black power in Mexico City 1968; Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt breaking every record known to man; and who could forget Ryan Lochte’s gas station adventure in Rio 2016.

Just six months later, the Winter Olympics will kick off. I feel like the Winter Games are underrated here in the U.S., but I really love them. It’s easier to follow the events since there isn’t as much to keep up with, Norway gets to show off, and snowboarding is always just the best. It might be my favorite Olympic sport overall. Remember Chloe Kim in 2018? That was awesome! Also, the Winter Olympics features curling. Doesn’t get better than that.

And finally, in November 2022, the Qatar World Cup kicks off. Look. I have so many problems with the World Cup being held in Qatar. The country’s bid won with unprecedented corruption. It’s being held in the late fall because summer temperatures are far too high to hold a soccer tournament, defeating the purpose of what is supposed to be a SUMMER competition. And most of all, the stadiums and infrastructure are being built with what is essentially slave labor. And yet, even with all of that, nothing gets me more excited than a World Cup. Especially if the U.S. manages to not trip over their own feet and actually qualify. The World Cup features the most popular sport in the world being played by the best teams with the best players. Soccer fans, many of whom are enemies during club season, come together for a month to cheer for their countries and get wildly drunk. It’s really an experience unlike any other.

Life is a real drag right now, and not having sports as an escape makes it even worse. But they say that patience is a virtue, that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that good things come to those who wait—whichever cliche you prefer. Basically, we’re going to have a lot of great sports over a short period of time. It’s hard to think about the future now, but I think next summer’s opportunity will be really cool.

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