With a large part of the nation couch-bound, craving an escape from the news, a collective diversion, or family-friendly TV, the loss of live sports broadcasts could scarcely be more ill-timed. Yes, a rich archive of classic contests lives on YouTube. I’ve already explored great moments in basketball, tennis, and surfing. Still, I crave something that we can all watch together, even given the imperative of social distancing and contractual obstacles to current pros participating.
Perhaps ESPN, Netflix, Turner Sports, and the like can tap the nation’s strategic reserve of retired athletes. Here are a few lighthearted suggestions for programming that could fill the void until our regular contests return.
Hall-of-Famers H-O-R-S-E: This shoot-out would work best with players of roughly the same era. If only two could participate, I’d choose Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. But I’d prefer a bigger field that included Magic Johnson, Reggie Miller, and Ray Allen. The order would be chosen at random, and each could participate from the NBA arena closest to his residence. We’d want Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson doing the commentary from their respective houses. If the contest is a success, there could be a follow-up event for 7-footers, featuring Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Arvydas Sabonis, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The announcers for that event would be Bill Walton, Vlade Divac, and Dikembe Mutombo. (I wrote this on Friday, but reality has again outpaced me; ESPN reports that the NBA is working on a version of this idea involving current players.)