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Couch: A Holiday Wish For A Sports World Without COVID

So tonight, DePaul will be the last major college basketball team to start its season. Probably. Ten games so far, all canceled for COVID reasons, including one where the team was already on the court warming up in Iowa. Coach Dave Leitao is worried about the mental state of his players, who . . .

Oh man, COVID has dominated 2020, hasn’t it? I don’t want to downplay it. I’m worried for DePaul’s players. As the tennis coach at small-college Roosevelt University in Chicago, I’m worried about my own players’ mental state, too. But I’m really, really looking forward to 2021. And with the vaccine making its rounds, I’m looking forward to all the things we will love to complain about once COVID is over, especially sports things that used to seem relevant.

Like: Who’s going to play left field for the Cubs? Yes, my focus as a Chicagoan might be a little Chicago-y. The Cubs have also sold Chicago on their ability to find players who are more valuable than people realize because of all the little things they do. And yet, they don’t have one player now who does any of the little things. Can’t they just find one guy who doesn’t strike out all the time? Forget anything else he does. Just one guy whose bat meets the ball.

We feel guilty when there are more serious things going on, but complaining about sports is one of the great joys in life. I’d be curious to know what other sports things people look forward to complaining about.

Will the College Football Playoff ever allow teams to compete for the national championship, even if ESPN doesn’t love them? I say in 2021, something will change. Then, we can complain about why Cincinnati gets into the Playoff when they didn’t play as tough a schedule as Florida.

But back to my stuff and Chicago: Can White Sox manager Tony La Russa, at age 76, really relate to his young team? Can he actually learn to call Uber when he’s out drinking, rather than driving home all over both sides of the road and the curb and sidewalk?

Ah yes, now I’m getting back into the pre-COVID swing of things. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all the things I used to complain about.

How can the Blackhawks go from being a dynasty to being in the doghouse when they still have Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane?

Why is Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who has done a great job with the Wildcats at the college level, such a hot NFL coaching candidate?

I worry about the mental state of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who courageously talked about mental health before the season. But should I feel guilty that right now, all I’m thinking about regarding Prescott is that the Cowboys haven’t signed him yet and that he would look awfully good in a Bears uniform?

I know George Halas founded the Bears and even helped to start the NFL. But does that automatically mean that his descendants know anything at all about football? The Cubs were a tough team that used to get to, and then lose, the World Series back in the 1930s. When old man Wrigley died, his descendants turned the team into cuddly losers for the next 50, 60, 70 years or so.

The Blackhawks were run into the ground by old man Wirtz, and when he died, his kids brought in some actual hockey people to run things. Everyone was mad at the old man, but now Rocky Wirtz is almost a hero in town.

Here’s one: Would it be better for the Bears to allow Mitch Trubisky to fail at quarterback in Chicago for a few more years or let him go and watch him become a star somewhere else?

Now that Billy Donovan is coaching the Bulls, it’s going to be hard to find something to complain about them for at least another year. But I’ll still try.

These are the diversions that sports are good for. My tennis team can’t really play matches out of state because we’d have to quarantine for two weeks when we come back to Chicago, and we can’t exactly play in Chicago because the indoor tennis clubs have restrictions.

That’s the type of thing I don’t want to think about. So good luck to DePaul tonight. The Blue Demons also have a top 10 recruiting class coming in. I look forward to complaining about that later.

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.

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  1. “Can Tony Larussa, at age 76, relate to his young team? Can he actually learn to call Uber when he’s out drinking?”, good one! And yeah, that is the sort of question/diversion sports are good for. I am confident the coming baseball season will have plenty of fans in the stadiums . Hopefully it will.

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