It’s hard to describe for non-sports lovers what a world without Sport is like, but I guess an office without coffee or a party without any music could mimic the same feelings of emptiness and loss myself and millions of others are feeling right now in these times of Covid-19.
It is, of course, a small, hopefully short-lived price to pay for our health and ensuring society itself does not break down.
As one government minister put it, every life saved now is a potential sports fan in the future.
But it is hard not to feel sad that, as summer fades into autumn, there will be no more bat on ball, no nerve-wracking Super Rugby clashes, no more peaceful hours on the couch watching the best golfers in the world strut their stuff on beautiful courses.
The hockey astroturfs, usually so full of joie de vivre on the weekends, are quiet.
There is no more gloating from Liverpool fans on social media, or the angst of long-suffering Arsenal supporters.
Sport provides a thrill, a shot of inspiration watching real-life superheroes overcoming the odds and for many people, gives them a reason to slog through the week and make it to the weekend.
As if to rub it in, the weather in Johannesburg has been glorious the last couple of days, sunny and warm, perfect for a day at the Wanderers or SuperSport Park.
But when the governing bodies of the various sports sift through the wreckage of 2020 once this pandemic has passed, they will have the opportunity to perhaps “reboot” several aspects of their product.
It seems inevitable, given the financial damage Covid-19 will do to the coffers of sport across the board, that the sporting landscape
will change once the world returns to “normal”.
Sadly, some cherished things might fall by the wayside, but happily some blights might also disappear.
Writing in The Guardian, the excellent Jonathan Liew speaks about the Covid-19 crisis causing financial turmoil and then warns of “greedy disaster capitalists” taking advantage.
Sporting bodies could be forced into some unpalatable decisions simply due to financial pressures.
The column ends with the warning: “For the next few weeks, perhaps even months, the power- brokers of sport – administrators and executives, sponsors and speculators, agents and marketers – will be at a loose end. Nothing to do but plot and strategise and kick around ideas. And then ask yourself a question: how far do you trust these people to act in the best interests of the sport you love?”
The South African situation is further complicated by Icasa, the broadcast and telecoms regulator, drawing up the new legislation
governing the coverage of sport in the country.
The amendments are due to be published by the end of September and Icasa has already said the goal is to ensure more free-to-air
coverage of sporting events that are “in the national interest”.
The problem is the free-to-air broadcasters do not have the means to do this properly; the national broadcaster is all but bankrupt and e.tv are far from at the forefront of the sports business game.
The loss of income from the exclusive television rights Super- Sport pays will only add to the burden of our sports bodies after the Covid-19 pandemic.
SA Rugby seem to be one of the earliest movers in terms of strategising for what happens next.
There have been strong suggestions that once it is safe to start playing rugby again, Super Rugby 2020 will be rebooted with the South African franchises (and possibly the Free State Cheetahs) playing each other in a series of local derbies.
This is a fantastic idea and hopefully crowd attendances will be much greater than they have been for Super Rugby in recent years.
The icing on the cake would be if this spurs major change in our competition structures and the Currie Cup is restored to its rightful place as a major tournament and not just an afterthought.
With enthusiasm waning for the 25-year-old Super Rugby concept, change accompanied by a move towards Europe may be just the tonic or injection that is required following the coronavirus crisis.
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