Learning how to play has never been more welcome. The Malt-O-Meal imitation of training camp will be sufficient even if we can taste the difference. Pouring Marshmallow Mateys in the Lucky Charms box doesn’t trick anyone, but all we can try is psychological manipulation.
A desolate camp suffices in the era where tales of human contact are legends. The Buffalo Bills dream of the drudgery found in old routines just like everyone else on Earth. There’s good rueful news for those seeking common ground.
Wondering if anyone gets to sit in the same venue as the contests isn’t the most fun thing to anticipate about a season. Let’s not do 2020 again.
Empty practices help prepare for empty stadiums. Future years will hopefully not feature games resembling eerie science fiction scenes. Based on how baseball and hockey have felt, matchups will feel like they’re taking place under a geodesic dome on a barren world settled by astral pioneers. This sport shouldn’t be as quiet as golf.
Playing in Chernobyl is bound to present challenges. No level of football prepares participants to don radiation suits. Home teams wear the dark ones. Gloves are an excuse for drops.
It’s tough to maintain the typical advantage for the host without attendees. The home offense will get the quiet it craves. By contrast, there needs to be one game day crew member allowed inside the venue to pipe in Motörhead while visitors have the ball. Lemmy will serve as the 12th man. Hosts could be sportsmanlike and blast music throughout the game if only the system didn’t break every change of possession.
If you haven’t had to get a new job during the pandemic, imagine what an odd experience this has been for new Bills. Their industry is already the sort of field that often requires a transfer. Draftees, free agents, and those traded are based in a city they haven’t gotten to know any better than teammates.
Training camp should offer a chance to refine knowledge and conditioning, not begin the process. It’s even truer during the shuttered year. A disciplined roster doesn’t need constant supervision. There are better ways to test the theory.
Mundane summer practices are valuable for creating the type of chemistry that can’t be replicated in a lab. I don’t think camp is overrated but sure hope it is. After so much seclusion, it’s a relief players don’t have to meet in the huddle then teach each other the playbook. Oh: that’s your route.
Blues music teaches that equality in misery helps make it bearable. Any club frustrated with restrictions on interaction with fans and each other should take dreary comfort in knowing at least everyone else has to deal with the year’s unique aggravations. This uniformly bizarre time creates parity the league restlessly pursues. Making each club obey the same rules more than literally levels the playing field.
Those looking for small but important symbols of progress can get excited by Ramones fan Stefon Diggs in team colors. Gabba gabba hey! Camp devotees enjoy figuring out if running sharp routes on an eerily deserted field is sufficient reason to schedule a vacation week around the Super Bowl. Forget presuming that fans will be allowed to watch the championship in person. For now, the league has to get through the most prominent new Buffalonian’s understandable concerns about getting back to normal.
Keep track of days by noticing who’s playing. Sports are valuable just as a frame of reference, which is especially evident now when we don’t even know the month without checking. Half a year in a sensory deprivation tank has led to the opposite of mental clarity.
Now, we’re supposed to know time is passing by noticing the weather. Meteorology isn’t as thrilling a hobby without teams to yell at. When it comes to rooting for seasons, football trumps winter.
Enthusiasts are learning about the horrifying empty existence that is not following sports. Nothing is less fulfilling than life without games to monitor. I’ve suddenly invested in NHL teams in which I’m not invested.
The hours set aside to cheer aren’t being used for productive activities like planting trees and learning languages: we just watch staged dramas instead. It took 2020 for the DVR to no longer be teetering near capacity. What do people who don’t follow teams do: talk to each other? Ick.
Prisoners learn about themselves when facing bars all day. The quarantined didn’t even get to spend the proceeds of a bank robbery. This stupidest of years has shown us how accustomed we are to entertainment and rituals. It should be that way: life better contain diversions from the ghastly bits. Humans should get something enjoyable back just for the sake of balancing out the universe. Right now, woe is way ahead.
Tailgating alone will be the most sobering moment, although you can fix that with wobbly pops. Participants don’t need to make 73 cheeseburgers anymore. Nobody’s telling you not to prepare food for a squadron, but it might be a bit too much for one person even if you cover some in plastic wrap in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.
People are tired of virtual everything along with virtually everything. Dispatches from empty camp feel fulfilling. Even practices that seem secluded in numerous ways offer a glimmer that life could be working toward normal.
Editor’s babble: I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever recognize “normal” again. Playoff hockey in August still can’t distract me from wondering what’s going on at Bills “training camp”. Thanks to Anthony Bialy for all the cognitive dissonance he brings to the blog ;) You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy.