In the absence of sports, I thought I’d be left with a glaring hole in my life. There’s no hockey to watch, no brackets to make, no March basketball to go mad over, and yet—much to my surprise—my constant need for competition has been met.
Although “conventional” sports aren’t there to fill my time anymore, I’ve somehow found myself enthralled by their replacements. Between ESPN2’s 24 hours as its alter ego “The Ocho,” the magic of the internet, and the thrilling day-to-day excitement of life in suburban Cleveland, I barely have time for my online classes (Mom if you’re reading this it’s a joke. I’m doing my classes).
Exactly one week after I left campus, I had already begun to feel stir crazy holed up in my house without any sports to watch. Enter: “The Ocho,” my temporary saving grace. ESPN2 typically takes on the name once a year to broadcast wacky sports—and has since 2017—but desperate times call for desperate measures, and a nation-wide quarantine is the perfect time for bold strategies.
The temporary name change is a nod to the 2004 film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, in which a dodgeball competition airs on the fictional ESPN 8, or “The Ocho.”
And of course, the network aired a professional dodgeball tournament late in the day, which I found myself getting incredibly invested in. The United States took on Canada in the final round of the 2019 Continental Cup. The U.S. staged an unbelievable comeback in the final seconds of overtime, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. After Canada jumped to a 12-2 lead in the opening frame, it felt a little like I was watching a lopsided game of hockey.
But the ever-resilient U.S. stormed back and shut out the Canadians in six straight rounds to tie the game at 12 each. I sat in awe as I watched the Americans dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge their way to a comeback victory reminiscent of Boston College women’s basketball’s comeback over Duke in the ACC Tournament.
Another favorite viewing of mine that day was the 2019 Stupid Robot Fighting League Championship, featuring “robots” made out of literal garbage controlled by four two-by-fours attached to the hands and feet of their human operators. Oh, and as a bonus, the trophy for the winner was more trash hot glued together.
But although the airing of the 46th Annual Cherry Pit Spitting Championship made my Michigan-loving heart sing, “The Ocho” was short lived, and sports lovers soon had to resort back to something else entirely.
Luckily for BC fans, various athletic teams have begun doing their best to fill the void. Though there aren’t any live games to broadcast, BC teams have taken one of two routes to give the people what they want: broadcasting reruns of classic games or predicting what could’ve happened with a simple game of chance.
Even though it’s out of season, BC football has been streaming some of the greatest games in Eagles’ history via YouTube. The first game up was none other than the 1993 Holy War, when David Gordon hit a 41-yard field goal straight up the middle with no time on the clock to beat the then-No. 1 Irish on their home turf.
What BC has dubbed “Throwback Theater” allows fans to experience the thrills and chills of Eagles football from a safe distance while isolated in the comfort of their own homes. As such, Eagles fans were sure to light up the live chat on YouTube as Eric Shorter dove for an interception in the waning seconds of the third quarter and when Pete Mitchell looked the ball right into the bread basket on an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch.
BC aired a second iteration of Throwback Theater on Thursday night with BC’s 2005 comeback over Wake Forest. Matt Ryan earned his title of “Matty Ice” with an off-the-charts second-string stat line—seven completions on nine attempts for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Down 20-7 at halftime, the Eagles needed a drastic turnaround after the break, and that’s just what they did. Ryan entered the game with 3:25 left to play and brought in a hurry-up offense with him. A 39-yard completion to Tony Gonzalez brought the Eagles within two.
After getting the ball back, Ryan fired a deep pass to the left sideline, and Kevin Challenger toe-tapped in the endzone for the go-ahead score with one minute to go.
ESPN has been broadcasting similarly, playing classic NFL and NCAA games of all kinds—not just football and basketball—to fill the airspace.
Birdball, on the other hand, has taken a different approach. The Eagles’ Twitter has been keeping up to date with their regularly scheduled programming virtually, and the Eagles are on a hot streak. Video simulations—complete with sound effects and the rolling of dice—have been posted for three games against Virginia Tech, one against UConn, and two matchups with Louisville.
First, BC took down VT 18-14, including two separate back-to-back home runs from Sal Frelick and Brian Dempsey and a go-ahead 3-run homer from Peter Burns in the sixth inning. Or, at least, that’s what the dice say.
The second game of the double header was much more lopsided in favor of the Hokies, who took it 22-13. BC bounced back with the odds in its favor for the third game, and the Eagles won 19-12. BC went on to beat UConn in the fourth simulated game 19-4, then swept Louisville in a double header—including overcoming a 10-1 deficit in the first of the two games.
The USCHO has also been simulating the men’s hockey NCAA Championship, and BC is well on its way to a national title. First, No. 2 BC beat No. 3 Bemidji State 2-1 on goals from David Cotton and Mike Hardman for a trip to the simulated regional final. Spencer Knight held off a late rally from the Beavers, and BC advanced to take on Cornell in the next round.
Then, with a trip to the simulated Frozen Four on the line, No. 2 seed BC took down No. 1 Cornell 3-1 to move onto the Frozen Four for an NCAA-record 26th time. The Eagles came back from a mid-game one-point deficit to beat the Big Red on goals from Alex Newhook, Matt Boldy, and Aapeli Räsänen.
And if your competitive spirit isn’t fulfilled yet, the BC Intramural League recently announced that it will be offering a variety of E-Sports leagues, including NBA 2k20, NHL20, and FIFA 20 on PS4 and XBox One.
The winner of the leagues will, of course, earn the traditional Intramural Champ mug and T-Shirt, which will be mailed to the winner in order to maintain social distance. Though I’m not one for video games, the prize is much more enticing than that of the Stupid Robot Fighting League.
So even though live sports are a thing of the past (and hopefully the future once life goes back to normal), there are plenty of ways to get your sports fix. If you need me, I’ll be outside practicing the five D’s of dodgeball.
Featured Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor