Huge venues have cardboard cut outs in the seats and recorded fan noise to make the live television broadcasts seem real. The broadcasters are often calling the game while watching from their homes. If they do happen to be at the game, they wear masks and are seated in the rafters of the building while separated from each other by a Plexiglas screen.
If, before the game day, a couple of players test positive for COVID 19 they sit out that game or more. If a few more players test positive, the team will cancel the game. Then the scramble begins to reschedule for a later date or to find a different opponent. Using the threat of infection as their reason, some players are “opting out” for the season. We are not going to see the team we anticipated watching.
Football bowl game committees scrambled to find two teams interested in playing. This resulted in some bowl games featuring teams with as few as three wins this season. Several bowl games were simply cancelled. If the game is played, the seats were empty or nearly so.
In professional sports the seasons have been shortened and teams have been scuffled to make up new divisions. MLB baseball played a sixty game schedule in 2020 and has yet to fully resolve the 2021 schedule. League owners and players have already lost billions of dollars.
NHL hockey has been forced by the ongoing closure of the border between the US and Canada to divide teams into odd divisions. The start of the season was delayed until mid-January.
Next, overlaying the virus are the politics of racial division with slogans painted on playing surface and worn on player’s uniforms. Those things define the NBA. The league also has obvious business interests in China. The NBA is our best example of an unwatchable sport.
Personal Note: I still watch a few college and professional games. When I am not reading or writing, what else is there to fill the hours during yet another pandemic stay-at-home day? However, as I watch, I am acutely aware that from players to fans, we are all just pretending.