How Do Sports Fans Feel One Year Into the Pandemic?: TRAINA THOUGHTS

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1. As you all know, one year ago today Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA suspended its season and the world was turned upside down.

The sports world was rocked as seasons were delayed, games went on without fans in the stands and bubbles were created. Sports often serve as the ultimate distraction from real life, but there was no way for sports to escape from COVID-19.

So it’s clear the pandemic—and I despise this phrase with a passion—put sports in perspective for many people.

I’ve had many people tell me they don’t care about sports nearly as much as they did before March 2020, which is totally understandable when you’re primarily thinking about how to keep yourself and your family safe from a dangerous virus.

So, I threw out this poll on Twitter on Thursday morning and was surprised that the number of people who care less about sports now than a year ago was so high.

What was more interesting, though, were the reasons people gave for losing interest.

A few takeaways on the replies:

• It’s interesting to see people cite empty stadiums as a reason for caring less about sports. Atmosphere is clearly important to fans.

• Even a pandemic can’t hurt the NFL.

• My guess is that if I did this poll again in one year, as normalcy returns, the 40% of people who say they care less about sports now than they did a year ago would be down to 20%.

2. Ryan Ruocco was calling the Nuggets-Mavericks game for ESPN when word came down from Adam Silver that the NBA season would be suspended. Ruocco joined this week's SI Media Podcast to talk about what that night was like, whether he ever got used to calling games from home, whether he'd be comfortable calling games in a full arena and much more.

Following Ruocco, CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter joined the podcast to talk about how the media has covered COVID-19, what it's like to cover media while working at CNN, the cable-news wars and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

3. I went back to see whether I even mentioned the word "corona" in Traina Thoughts on 3/11/20. I did not. The lead story in that edition was about Alex Trebek, who died in November, acting out referee hand signals for a Jeopardy! category. It was just another reminder of how much 2020 sucked.

4. Scott Van Pelt, as always, was compelling and eloquent with his "One Big Thing" on Wednesday night, which looked back on the past year.

5. Speaking of compelling and eloquent, today seemed like a good time to bring back this gem from Good Morning Football's Kyle Brandt.

6. I said in Wednesday's Traina Thoughts, before details of the NHL's deal with ESPN came out, that if you're a hockey fan, you better be subscribing to ESPN+. Allow me to reiterate that take. As part of the seven-year, $2.8 billion deal, 75 games a year will air exclusively on ESPN+ and Hulu. That means if you're a fan of your local market team and they are playing on ESPN+, you won't be getting that game on your local cable channel. It will be ESPN+ only.

 7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: With news of ESPN and the NHL getting back together, many fans voiced their desire that the network once again use play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne to call games. So I just want to point out that Thorne is responsible for my all-time favorite call.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram