I can’t remember much

I can’t remember much

Morning all. With sports gradually returning around the world, excitement is starting to build. The Premier League will be back in a couple of weeks, affording me the joy – or (more likely) despair – of watching my team again. The Formula 1 season will finally get under way in Austria on 5 July, the first of eight races in Europe in a frantic two-month period. Meanwhile, England’s cricketers will be playing thee tests in three weeks against the West Indies. In a bid to make up for lost time, global authorities are understandably cramming as many sporting sardines into the calendar as humanly possible.

Of course, these events will not be the same as before. For starters, there will be no live audiences, and that is bound to have a huge impact on the viewer experience. For people at home, crowds provide atmosphere and amplify the importance of what is going on. Part of me is concerned the competition will feel hollow and half-baked. But after months of nothing, I am gleefully bracing myself for a summer sporting overload.

The only problem is, I can’t seem to remember much. One of the fascinating things about sport is its continuity, its constant evolution from game to game, tournament to tournament, season to season. Form and injuries come and go. Managers are sacked for poor results; a team’s identity changes overnight. Warnings, suspensions and points deductions are handed out for misconduct, offering a small but potentially decisive advantage to rivals. Its been so long since I watched live sport that I actually care about (sorry, Bundesliga) that I am having trouble remembering anything that was happening before all this viral craziness.

I can’t remember Arsenal’s recent results. Usually the fine details of the past handful of matches are at the forefront of my mind, available when needed with only a moment’s thought, like my pin number or mother’s maiden name. I know that we were playing better under Arteta and were more solid at the back, but I am struggling to recall precisely how these improvements were materializing on the pitch. I know that going away to Man City for our first game back will be tough, but trying to think about our possible formation for the game is little more than a stab in the dark given the time lapse.

With cricket on the verge of returning, I can’t remember who was playing well before the break. I know that England won a tough series away in South Africa during the winter, but who scored the runs and took the wickets during that tour? No idea. Usually around this time I’d be mulling over possible XIs for the first test, but with no county cricket form to reference, how to tell who’s in good nick? In fairness, the selectors are probably facing similar challenges and will be hoping for some clarity from the net sessions.

The time frame for tennis’ return is still unclear – an announcement is expected next week – but I can’t remember much about who’s in and out of form. I know that Djokovic was doing his usual relentless winning thing, and a few players like Thiago Seyboth Wild and Cristian Garin were enjoying strong Latin America swings. But past that, things become murky. I usually check my ATP Live Scores app several times a day to track results and ranking movements with forensic detail. I haven’t opened it since March.

This lack of knowledge feels strange, as if I have been hiding away on a Buddhist retreat for the past three months, free of contact with wider society. Of course, the entire world has been on a retreat of its own, so I am not alone. I suppose we will all re-integrate into society together and, step-by-step, get back to doing the things we were doing before. And for me, that means watching lots and lots of sport. It should be fun.


Finally for today, a word on the situation unfolding in the US right now. As a white, middle-class man, I have no first-hand experience of being the victim of discrimination, and so I tend to refrain from speaking out on such matters. But this feels like a tipping point. Social media has many flaws, but yesterday’s tidal wave of posts in support of equal rights reminded us all that it can, if used in the right way, also be a force for good. I’m not sure how many accounts posted black squares, but it must have been in the hundreds of millions. It was amazing and encouraging to see so many people, from all walks of life, standing up to injustice.

Of course, so much more needs to be done to ensure that racism and social inequality is finally eradicated from a system that is built to protect the interests of the privileged few, and a sprinkling of posts on Instagram will be scant consolation to those who constantly struggle to have their voices heard. Ultimately it is up to those in power – legislators and government officials around the world – to make the required changes. But if movements like yesterday’s blackout can remind them of the urgency of the situation, then we have all played our part. It may be small, but it is something.

See you on Friday with another Top 5.