Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand skates by the puck on a shootout attempt in a Jan. 13 game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. AP photo

It’s not easy being a sports fan these days, is it?

With professional sports leagues stopping play during the coronavirus pandemic, there hasn’t been much of anything to watch for weeks and weeks — save for professional wrestling and the NBA Horse Challenge, which alternated between interesting and unwatchable.

The Horse challenge, which ESPN televised last week, pitted eight players (past and present) representing the NBA and WNBA against each other in a popular playground shooting game.

We all miss watching live sports. The unpredictability is part of the allure. We miss waiting to see the next great game, or moment or play. In ordinary times, this is a wonderful time of the year.

Major League Baseball opens its shutters while the NBA and NHL gear up for the playoffs. (Kids, nothing beats playoff hockey, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.)

Now, most sporting events on the tube are mostly rebroadcasts from past years, as a bevy of networks from ESPN to NBCSN, NESN, NBA, NHL, and NFL, among many others, look to fill precious air time.


It also means you, the sports-missing fan, has the ultimate power. You can control the narrative now, something that live sports can’t offer.

You want to view sports bliss (the 2004 Red Sox playoff run comes to mind)? It’s out there, somewhere. By contrast, it’s easy to ignore the painful side of sports (Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last year, for example) by just …. turning the channel.

It’s that easy, folks.

Sports fans, we have the power. We can dictate what we watch.

No more heartbreaks. No more fist-waving, head-pounding, mouth-swearing moments.

Instead of wondering if (or waiting for?) the Red Sox bullpen to blow another game, we can now watch them win and win and win some more.


As an unsettled world operates around us, we can fill hours with nothing but good vibes, good feelings.

The nostalgia brought on by past sporting events is downright soul-soothing. So, too, is the zany side of sports.

Take, for example, British sports commentator Nick Heath, who provides hilarious play-by-play of everyday life in South London on his social media accounts. From pedestrians crossing the street to dogs running around in a park, Heath turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. It’s entertaining, brilliant and exactly what we need now.

Nostalgia and the zany may be all we have now, but that’s OK because both can help us navigate these tough times.

In a recent five-day span, I watched the Celtics close out an NBA Finals series, the Patriots win a few Super Bowls, the Bruins storm their way to the 2011 Stanley Cup and a couple of Red Sox parades.

Thats what we call a good run, folks.


It started with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals, when the Celtics demolished the Rockets 114-97 to take the series 4-2. Larry Bird finished with a triple-double — he had a few of those in his career — to lead the Green.

There were a host of Red Sox home openers in which players received their World Series rings, including in 2005 when the New York Yankees were the guests of honor. The Bombers got to watch the Sox celebrate their dramatic 2004 World Series run one more time.

NESN also treated us to the 2008 Red Sox home opener, fresh off the club’s 2007 World Series crown, the organization’s seventh.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched into the seventh inning of an eventual 5-0 victory. Incredibly, Julio Lugo had two — two! — hits.

The 2017 opener also recently aired on NESN. Andrew Benintendi clubbed a three-run homer to help the Sox beat the Pirates 5-3 in the first game of the post-David Ortiz Era. Just how amazing was that game? Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, Heath Hembree and Craig Kimbrel combined to throw 2.2 scoreless innings.

It’s the little things we often forget, right?


One day, on April 3, NESN showed Game 6 of the 2013 World Series between the Sox and Cardinals, then Game 3 of a 2011 Eastern Conference semifinal game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Guess what? Those ended well.

Classic Celtics games have been a treat to watch, or re-watch.

The 1984 NBA Finals against the Lakers? That whole series was awesome, particularly Game 7 at the old Boston Garden. Re-watching that one brought back the warm and fuzzies. Then there was the epic 1976 NBA Finals between the Celts and the Suns, which featured what many NBA fans have dubbed “the greatest game ever played.”

That, of course, was Game 5 at the Garden. The Celtics won 128-126 in 3OT. The game — which featured seven future Hall of Fame players — was full of controversial moments, from clock issues to timeout calls. Boston’s Jo Jo White led all scorers with 33 points. Paul Westphal had himself a day for Phoenix, scoring 25 points.

There have been countless other games and events that have warmed even the coldest Boston sports fans.

Patriots Super Bowl victories (there’ve been a few of those), World Series parades and classic Beanpot games (college hockey) fill in more than a few gaps.

Yes, life is void of sports these days, which makes it tough to shake the mundane, but it doesn’t mean there’s nothing out there to make us smile once again.

And who couldn’t use a little of that these days?

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