By Mark Gallagher
On March 11, roughly a month before the playoffs, the NBA suspended the season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19.
The next day, the NHL followed suit.
Hours later, the NCAA made its own announcement. A big one. The Division 1 men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments were cancelled.
The Philly region is home to some of the country’s craziest sports fans in the country, whether a team is championship caliber or in the cellar.
With no live competition, some diehard fans are dealing with a bit of an identity crisis — another layer of strange on top of an already strange situation.
Many are turning to old games to fill the void.
The Eagles’ first-ever Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in 2018 is a popular pick.
Tyrone Johnson (above right with Mike Missanelli and Natalie Egenoff), a lifelong Philly sports fan, recently rewatched Villanova’s historic upset of Georgetown in the 1985 men’s college basketball championship game.
He also revisited the game when former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins became the franchise’s all-time hit leader, another win.
“I lost sports. I don’t need to watch other losses from my teams from the past to bring back those memories ” Johnson told WHYY.com. “I’m gonna create a fantasy world where my teams are undefeated during this quarantine.”
Others are listening to sports talk radio, including the The Mike Missanelli Show, where Johnson is a producer and fill-in host.
What do Johnson and Missanelli talk about for four hours each show?
So far, the hottest and most consistent debate is whether people would stomach watching sports without fans in the stands — if it was the only way for live competition to make a comeback.
“Some people are saying ‘no.’ If they can’t be 100 percent, Wells Fargo Center, Sixers games, 20,000 people then I don’t want it,” said Johnson.
The lack of live sports hasn’t been all negative.
Johnson’s drive-time program, for example, has become a place for fans to vent about being cooped up in the house. And, in at least one instance, a venue for male camaraderie.
“He can’t go out with his friends. And obviously he can’t go watch the game. So he was just calling about [how] being able to hear us made him feel quote, un-quote normal,” said Johnson about one caller.