From ‘Babylon Berlin' to ‘Fire in Babylon’: Coping without live sport
An entire weekend without any live sport - whether amateur or professional - was a real shock to the system.
I must confess I am not an avid consumer of sport on television and prefer to be at the stadium or on the side of the touchline. This past weekend I would normally have been watching some of the best youth rugby talent on display, but instead found myself glued to Netflix reliving an all-time classic Lagaan and also binged on the new series The English Game. If this is the “new normal” I best invest in a treadmill very soon for my couch hasn’t seen me this much in a really long while.
There’s a huge difference between covering sports and loving sports, and I just happen to be a sports fanatic. So, since the majority of the sport activities - particularly football - have been suspended amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, my TV has been completely off. Late on Sunday, it got to me that I hadn’t watched TV for almost two days. But I mean, there’s no purpose to it. It was supposed to be interesting times for football fanatics considering it’s now the time for the survival of the fittest and the elimination of the weakest. But patience and awareness should prevail.
I went to an old school friend’s guest house for some rest and down time.
I binge-watched a German series on Netflix called Babylon Berlin, set in 1929 and between the world wars. The attention to historical detail in this series is outstanding and I never found the sub-titles distracting. In between, I read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, about the horrors of World War I, which for me put in perspective the war on the coronavirus.
Three things I recommend from my no-sport weekend: Garth Bogle’s Bali Grand Guest House on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, any book by Faulks and exploring non-English language TV series.
To be honest, this first Saturday and Sunday without sport wasn’t bad at all.
My interest in Super Rugby began waning five years ago, ,so I barely missed it. In fact the only sport I missed was soccer, and in particular Arsenal who are still in the race for a spot in the top four in the Premier League and thus a return to the Champions League.
At the weekend Arsenal would have played their FA Cup quarter-final against Sheffield United. That’s all I missed. I cooked. I cleaned.
I did a bit of shopping. The only sport I watched - besides an old clip of Arsenal beating Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in February 2002 (Dennis Bergkamp’s chip for the fourth goal was just divine) - was the excellent documentary Fire in Babylon, about the social impact made by the great West Indies team of the late 1970s, 80s and early 90s. I highly recommend it.
Personality has replaced occasion for me in this time of no live sports. It has allowed for time to research and explore, to delve into the personalities of the sporting world and remind ourselves of those sporting people whose daily and weekend exploits usually added to our smile or pained expression, especially on a Monday. I’ve found myself doing more reading in the last two weeks than I have in the last few months. I’ve been able to apply my mind in going back into the archives to remind myself, as much as the reader, of some wonderful sporting moments in the past year, decade and century.
You know things are tough when you catch yourself regretting not having appreciated Australian Super Rugby derbies a bit more ... I mean, even that would have been better than no rugby at all. This past weekend was bleak, it didn’t even feel like a weekend at all. What do you do?
There’s only so many times you can watch replays of the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup final before Cheslin Kolbe’s vicious step past Owen Farrell starts giving us a new definition of social distancing, and an epidemic of rolled ankles is the last thing we need right now. That, and seeing Farrell so regularly.
I keep telling myself, “At least it’s not The Notebook.” It could be worse.
It’s only the eighth season of How I Met Your Mother and it keeps my wife’s interest long enough to make her forget about 90 Day Fiance or The Real Housewives of wherever the heck for a few hours.
The Sharks were supposed to host the Chiefs, while the Crusaders were going to face the Hurricanes. The Stormers visiting the Jaguares wasn’t a bad late night prospect either. But here we are. On a scale of the “Stay at home challenge” to “Victor Lindelof cross-dressing”, I’d say I’m at five: creating mock press conferences on a live video blog. Of course, I’m Pote Human.
It was a very strange weekend. It felt like I was on leave but even if I’m on leave, you can’t take away the love that I have for sports. I live and breathe sports.
For the past three weeks, I’ve been working on Friday night. I don’t have to explain how fascinating Friday nights are in Pietermaritzburg, but the coronavirus outbreak broke that momentum. This was a boring weekend. It is something that I would never get used too, but at least I was able to spend some quality time with my girlfriend.
A weekend that normally flies by took an eternity without sport.
On Saturday, I caught up with the TV shows I am watching, watched a couple of sport documentaries and read a bit. When I was tired of doing that and checked the clock, it was only 2pm. My life seemed unstructured with no sport to centre it. Even drinking in the morning looked bad with no rugby to use as an excuse. It was worse than the apocalypse because there, the zombies chase you - there is some action. Sitting idle with not much to watch and do made me restless, like an addict in search of their next fix.
Jacques van der Westhuyzen
It’s the “missing out” that hurts (like having to fulfil a dinner engagement when you know your mates are watching the Super Rugby final).
This past weekend didn’t feel like I “missed out” because there was nothing to miss. Not having the option of watching live rugby, football or golf though just limited my options on Saturday and Sunday. But, it wasn’t all that bad; I simply did other stuff. I bought a 1000-word puzzle which my son, Joshua, and I are building, I read a lot (like always) and I still went out for my regular weekend runs (like always).
I have been re-watching cricket and football games from the early and mid-2000s.
It has been very nostalgic taking a trip down memory lane and reliving past memories. This has been a difficult period. Generating article ideas has been a challenge, but it has also been nice to be exposed to a new situation and tackle it.
IOL Sport Writers