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Escapism in our new reality

We’re conditioned to be entertained, or to want to be entertained. When our realities spiral away from us, we turn to forms of entertainment.

Escapism. by En Bouton is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Escapism in our new reality


Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Escapism

A word defined as “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy”.

I think there are levels to which we try to escape. And there are a wide range of whys. We’re conditioned to be entertained, or to want to be entertained at the very least. So when our realities spiral away from what we want or expect them to be, we turn to forms of entertainment. TV, movies, games, books, etc.

Then there’s escapism in sports. And really, that’s why we’re here, right? The thrill of a breakaway goal when the puck hits the back of the net. A running back hitting the hole from a perfect block that frees a 40-yard touchdown run. Watching a swinging third strike to end a perfect game. You catch my drift.

In today’s world, we’ve been thirsty for the return of live sports. COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. We’re staring an irregular time in the face, and the major players are either already back or about to be. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The bubbles

Three sports are using bubbles to safely get back to competitive play. And no, I’m not talking the bubbles you blew as kids, West Ham United weirdness, or zorbing.

Wide World of Sports

MLS and the NBA have descended upon Florida.

Florida accounts for 365,244 cases according to the CDC. 77,455 of them have been in the past seven days. But that’s cool, those sports are playing in a bubble at Walt Disney World. Oh, Disney is OPEN!?

Sure, precautions are being taken. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the actual hot spot of COVID in the world is where we’re sending the athletes that we pay to watch dance for us.

Ignore the fact that NBA Superstars have tested positive and two MLS teams had to drop out of their tournament due to the sheer number of positives.

I’ll admit, I don’t know the details of how the bubble works. But let’s think about the fact that there are Disney guests staying in the same hotels as some teams. Disney employees, whether they are in the parks or ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, can potentially come in contact with guests as well as players and team personnel. In theory that should be fine if people are following the rules, but this is Florida we’re talking about.

The middle of nowhere – aka Utah

I’ve already mentioned the NWSL running into the same issue as MLS, specifically with the Orlando Pride last month. They dropped out, and the league continued on.

There haven’t been issues since. But losing a whole team before the tournament started isn’t a great look.

East coast/West coast (Toronto/Vancouver)

Then we have the NHL. They are splitting in half and heading to the two Canadian cities. Many teams, including my hometown Boston Bruins, have seen players go into lockdown because of reckless behavior. This means they’re having fractured practices before they can cross the border.

Let’s talk about that for a second. As of now, the US/Canada border is still closed, and likely will be for another month. Yet we’re sending an onslaught of people (about 50 per team) from primarily US cities into Canada.

How is this a thing? Seriously. If I were Canadian I wouldn’t trust a single American coming into my city to do what they were supposed to do.

Let’s go without fans

Major League Baseball has taken the mound with a limited, 60 game schedule. We’ve written about baseball’s situation ad nauseum. How are they going about this? They’re limiting games to divisions. East, Central, and West teams from both leagues will play each other.

In theory, this is cool. But if you think about it, there are two big factors that I’ve already mentioned for other sports. First, teams need to travel to Florida.

Remember when Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York put travel restrictions on people coming from hot-bed states like Florida and Georgia? Yeah, I remember that. This is honestly bonkers to me. A state that refuses to mandate masks and is suing its biggest city, and a state in which people are still packing the beaches and is seeing an average of over 10,000 new cases per day.

Then there’s the Blue Jays. Somehow, through everything, they never thought to talk to Canada to make sure it was kosher for teams to cross the border for their home games. The Canadian government has rejected the Jays’ ability to play at Rogers Centre, thus making the team homeless.

They’re supposed to play their first “home” game on July 29th. Where that home will be, nobody knows. Pittsburgh tried to help, but the state of Pennsylvania has denied that attempt. With their season starting the 24th, it’s rather urgent, no?

Oh, and because wealth before health is a thing, there are still absurd blackouts because RSNs rule this game.

This is a comedy and tragedy at its finest, folks.

Kill preseason, limit fans

We simply don’t know enough about where things will be when the NFL is supposed to get started just yet. But, to this point, they have struck a deal with players to play exactly zero preseason games, and dive right into the season. It remains to be seen if multi-team practices will be a thing or not.

So football theoretically will return with the potential of some new face masks and the inability to swap jerseys after a game. Don’t worry, guys. You can tackle each other, pile onto fumbles, and sweat all over everyone, but you can’t do a ceremonial jersey swap.

And the craziest thing to me is that the NFL still hasn’t committed to playing with no fans. Right now, it looks like their plan is 25% capacity, or something thereabouts. You’re telling me you’ll put 18,000 fans in a stadium, expect them to not tailgate, and stay socially distant? During the time the second wave of COVID is roughly expected to hit?

We all know the Bills mafia are going to go all Dudley Boyz on each other. Don’t pretend they won’t.

People are pining for things to get back to normal.

But, let’s be real, what is normal? Continued escapism. Comfortable ignorance.

The ability to do the things we’ve always done that make us feel good about ourselves while ignoring the larger picture. I get it. Living in my own bubble sounds amazing. But that’s a mental thing, right? Because you’re not willing to stay in your own home and not do the things you want to.

Okay, I know this is a gross generalization. Plenty of people I know are taking the current state of the world very seriously. Yet, while talking about how much this all sucks and that everyone needs to wear a mask, some are still going out to dine at places indoors. Taco Tuesday trumps, I guess. Oh, I hate using that word. I feel gross now.

According to the same CDC data I mentioned before, the United States as a whole has 3,882,167 total cases and 141,677 deaths. That’s 1,184.4 cases per 100,000 people.

And while I do understand that major cities have done pretty well with the outbreak (living in NYC through all this has been very interesting), it still feels wholly irresponsible that exceptions are being made for the sake of our entertainment. It’s a human issue, and it boggles my mind how far apart we, as humans, are on the most basic of things.

Escapism at its finest.

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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