O'Donnell: Fourth-and-folly -- Who's going to watch all of these summer games?

  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Associated Press

  • Associated PressNBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

    Associated PressNBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

  • Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

    Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. Associated Press

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Associated Press

Updated 7/3/2020 3:13 PM

WHERE WOULD AMERICA BE without summer's whiff of spectacle?



Pennant races.

NFL training camps.

Where would American TV be without the profitable lure of fresh sports "community?"

The whole us/them thing. Text-ready tribalism now with a legalized cup of tea.

On the most surreal Fourth of July weekend in the history of the republic, that America is being confronted with what should be mere peripheral discards during its new abnormalcy.

Cancellation appears to be heresy in the offices of commissioners Gary Bettman, Adam Silver, Roger Goodell and Rob Manfred.

The Cubs and White Sox are in home-wary July training camps.

The Bears remain on target to open practice later this month.

Credible speculation remains that the Blackhawks will close the 2019-20 season amid the wheat field soul of Edmonton.

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Even the Bulls are trying to rise from an apparent missed sword by the viral matador. That rendezvous with sub-mediocrity could be occurring right here in suddenly pandemic-friendly Chicago with seven other NBA bottom-bubblers.

Steph Curry and Co. are undoubtedly champing at the bit to be sentenced to weeks in the humid haze of a West Loop plague.

It is bizarre. It is cringey. It is eerie in the thirst degree.

There is not a skybox high enough to try and make sense of it all.

It is a charade. It is Poof the Magic Dragon, an against-most-science decree by the lords of the games that America shall play through COVID-19.

The idea that all four major North American sports leagues may be playing on top of each other before summer's end means nothing.

The leagues and their electronic advertising partners are trusting some sort of salable denial that basically states, "Show it and enough will watch."


What the sum of the "enough" will be remains eminently metric-worthy.

Even for a committed sports gambler, how many adrenaline rushes can be courted in an overstuffed broadcast day?

But who's stopping to measure when TV billions are on the line?

It is folly. It is a weak Bogart of an ill-timed communal opiate.

When the underpinnings of the first Independence Day were being considered, John Adams wrote: "It ought to be solemnized with pomp and people, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations."

Maybe good pal Thomas Jefferson edited out, "And death-defying big-league greed."

STREET-BEATIN': The NBA is planning to allow Turner Sports broadcasters Kevin Harlan, Ian Eagle and Brian Anderson to enter and exit "The Mickey Bubble" with no player interface to fulfill other obligations. (Harlan and Eagle have NFL commitments; Anderson is the TV voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.) ...

That disconnect between Fox Sports and the U.S. Golf Association was a blessing for all; The two went together as well as a sand wedge and a water balloon. (NBC and The Golf Channel will now televise the delayed 2020 U.S. Open from Winged Foot (N.Y.) Sept. 17-20). ...

Has any non-sycophant ever used the words "Phil Mickelson" and "genuinely likable" in the same sentence? (Ol' Toothy makes Don Johnson's David Simms in "Tin Cup" look warm and fuzzy.) ...

At least one informed radio expert insists that the remote tandem of Mike Golic Sr. and Trey Wingo has been picking up ground in "key demos" vs. Mike Mulligan and buttons-off David Haugh. (June numbers at both ESPN-AM (1000) and WSCR-AM (670) are expected to be Arctic brutal; First station to give out promotional ear muffs and mittens wins.) ...

Anthony Petrillo and lounging staff at Arlington Park have been fielding calls about tardy refunds from the postponed original Kentucky Derby date of May 2. (Just another sign of current AP inefficiency; Maybe it has something to do with "shareholder value" at Churchill Downs Inc.) ...

"I Grew Up Listening to You" -- the autobiography of innovative Bulls public-address announcer Tommy Edwards -- embodies "labor of love" (Amazon, $14.99). (His deep reverence for Larry Lujack extends to correct recall of the winters when "Super Jock" was a regular in The Eskimo Open at Buffalo Grove Golf Club and later Cog Hill.) ...

As a relic of "pandemic virtual," Jim Rose's kitchen may yet wind up in the Museum of Broadcast Communications. (Complete with old Peter Desnoes/WLS-Channel 7 coffee mugs.) ...

And perennial trainers champ Larry "High Strike" Rivelli, asked if his 100-horse stable could sweep all of the projected 240 races at Arlington's dotty 2020 meet, deadpanned, "Well ... not all 240."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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