BY BRETT POPPLEWELL,Sportsnet magazine
Imagine a day where the professional sporting events taking place on the entire continent involved a tennis match that even the most avid tennis fans didn’t want to watch and a smattering of soccer games, one of them featuring arguably the worst professional soccer team in the world (with sympathies and regrets to Toronto FC, but your own player professed it as fact).
What could millions of people do but switch off their TVs, turn to their loved ones and say: “Honey, today kinda sucks.”
And they’d be right. Today does kinda suck, if you’re a sports fan anyway.
In fact, July 11, 2012 is a date that might live in infamy among the worst in sports history. A day in which a tennis match on the greenest grass in all of Rhode Island between the 11th and 65th best players in the world ranks supreme among all sporting events on Earth.
Thankfully the complete lack of sports today is just a temporary result of the MLB All-Star Break. And though this unfortunate side-effect of last night’s All-Star Game is as irritable as some aggressive rash that may or may not be related to what you did after the game last night, all should be remedied by tomorrow when golf returns to the airwaves with the 2012 John Deere Classic.
But what if someway somehow the temporary rash that is this day grew into something more permanent? What if every day was like today? No MLB, NBA, or NHL. No NFL, PGA or Olympics either. No more motorsports or boxing (there is a mid-week UFC event). What if there wasn’t even any cricket?
What would the people now stuck staring at their loved ones do next? And what would their world look like?
The socio-economic repercussions of a world without sports are almost impossible to gauge. Not in any serious fashion anyway. But that’s not the point.
Sure, beer consumption would decrease and millions of chicken wings would go uneaten. And, yeah, in about nine months maternity wards would be packed with screaming, crying babies. But they’d be babies without much of a future. No future at all, really, an unfortunate result of the Nuclear Winter spreading from the Far East.
Put simply: a world without sports would destroy itself. Sports are, after all, an integral part of every modern civilization on this planet. They divide and yet bind us in ways that only a sports fan could possibly understand.
But the world wouldn’t end overnight. No, it would take a few months and, unfortunately for those who survive, few would understand the true cause of their newfound mutation into post-apocalyptic cretins until they had already, well, mutated.
But like I said, it would take a few months for the mutations to begin. And, in all likelihood, the apocalypse would be preceded by mass confusion, followed by an inexplicable euphoria and a false sense of peace.
On the first day without sports grown men would rise from couches and bar stools across North America, seek out their respective lovers and engage in confused conversations that would quickly lead to the bedroom and result in the greatest baby boom in human history.
The next day, the entire population of Toronto would gather in Yonge St. and commemorate the end of 45-years of perpetual sadness. Fathers would hold their sons close, tears of relief streaming down their faces at the collective realization that the Maple Leafs would never disappoint them again.
Meanwhile, in Britain, rival mobs of soccer hooligans would gather in pubs across the countryside and drink themselves into a peaceful stupor having no more cause to smash a pint glass over the bar rail and stab it in each others throats.
News outlets around the world would falsely report that the end of sports was pulling humanity closer together.
Then weird things would start to happen. In Boston, former Red Sox fans would realize that despite the death of baseball, they still hated New Yorkers. In Los Angeles, Posh Spice would wake up one morning and realize that, upon closer inspection, her husband was never really that interesting when you took him off the soccer pitch. And Canadians everywhere would suddenly learn that the majority of Quebeckers were only in favour of Canadian unity because they didn’t want to have to rename the Canadiens.
And then: Nuclear War. A direct result of the end of cricket diplomacy.
And just like that, all of Asia would be a smoldering crater. Africa too. And, for reasons still to be determined, South America as well. And within days, a large dark radioactive cloud would descend on Europe and, thanks primarily to the revolution of the Earth, it would soon encapsulate North America.
Then, some Tuesday in the distant future, some mutated survivor (probably a Greek) would drag himself to Olympia, site of the ancient Olympics, bow down before the Temple of Zeus, weep from his one good eye and ask: “What the Hell just happened?”