I miss sports. There, I said it.
I miss tuning it at night to catch whatever game happens to be on, and I miss the daily routine of following the “soap opera” that is the sporting world. I miss catching highlights with my coffee in the morning, arguing with friends and infuriating my wife with mindless trivia that she has no interest in at all. Like, none. Whatsoever.
This isn’t a case of me trying to minimize the real-life horrors that have affected hundreds of thousands of families in this country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or the general destruction of our economy or the sanity of parents everywhere that has been stretched beyond the limits of what can possibly be expected any rational human being to withstand. I just miss sports.
It’s my diversion from everything else in the world — a metaphorical escape from the harsh realities of life that relentlessly thunder down upon us all even during the best of times. Without diversion, we are trapped in an endless loop of bills, responsibilities, parenting, worrying about our own parents... what have you.
Plus, I just really dig sports.
I’ve tried to find other outlets to fill the void. I went to Netflix and took a shot at watching “Tiger King” but stopped after maybe 15 minutes, when I realized it was about some dumpster-fire human beings from Oklahoma and not Tiger Woods or the 1984 Detroit Tigers.
I tried to pick up painting, but my attempt at replicating the Mona Lisa turned out to look more like, well, a dumpster-fire human being from Oklahoma.
The NFL Network has been re-airing a bunch of old games, and that gets my attention for a few minutes at a time, but without the drama of the unknown, it’s hard to get emotionally invested. Ditto for classic games across the platforms of the other sports-based networks: cool, and fun to watch, but without the uncertainty of live events, it’s tough to get too involved.
But riding in on a white horse to save the day is the NFL draft. That three-day festival of teams replenishing their rosters with the very best that college football has to offer is the answer to my prayers. Well, my sports-related prayers. I mean, I would have to be a pretty shallow person to wrap up my entire relationship with...
But I digress.
The draft intrigues me on nearly every level. As a Ravens fan, I enjoy the possibilities every year of potentially finding that next great star or strengthening up a position of need or just stashing away a talented young player who can improve the team’s depth or eventually elevate into a major contributor.
I love the rush of watching a player I am excited about continue to stay on the board as team after team passes on him, and I even like the gut-punch that comes when another team eventually tabs him one or two picks before the Ravens can snatch him. I do mock draft after mock draft online for weeks and, admittedly, months before the real draft, playing out nearly every scenario that can possibly take place.
And it actually comes to fruition on Thursday, April 23.
This is my Christmas, birthday and find-out-I’m-not-due-for-a-colonoscopy day all at once, bundled up in a tidy three-day package of remarkably-talented young people realizing their own dreams and building fortunes that could give future generation of their families more opportunities than many can dream.
And that’s the other part of the draft that is so compelling. People’s lives get changed in front of our eyes. Many of these young men have only known struggles over their lives, outside of their shining successes on the football field. Every year we are told stories of how a few of these players grew up homeless, or shuffled from relative to relative, or were fortunate enough to live with both parents but never saw them as they each held multiple jobs.
And besides the economic impact on these men’s lives, there is the satisfaction and realization of achieving a dream. Really, though, how many of us get to achieve a life-long dream?
I love my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. But if I was truly living my life-long dream, I’d be jamming lead guitar for Led Zeppelin with long, lustrous hair while playing catcher for the Baltimore Ravens in between trips to the space station. That’s just being honest.
And, come on. Pretty sweet, right?
Regardless, I will be glued to my television for three days of the NFL draft — celebrating or screaming at the screen as the Ravens make their picks, laughing at the continued missteps of other teams and enjoying a good human-interest story on more than one of these young soon-to-be millionaires.
Because after the draft, there isn’t another sporting event on the near horizon. There’s just dumpster-fire human beings from Oklahoma giving meth to tigers or something.