You are about to read something shocking. Ready? Wait for it… Covid-19 is good for sport. Let me explain.

Of course I don’t mean the world is a better place because dozens of wonderful little clubs are threatened with extinction, or because the kids are not getting their Saturday morning football in the park.

No, I fully understand how the current pandemic is causing individual, societal and economic misery on a scale not seen for generations. I know, too, that sporting organisations around the world – large and small, rich and poor – are taking a terrible battering. 

I speak from experience: Redtorch is one of the innumerable sports-related business that is finding the current climate challenging.

But I, along with my irrepressible colleagues, am an optimist. Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ is my personal anthem. Yes, as far as sport is concerned, there really is a silver lining to the hideously grim cloud of Covid. 

And here’s why.

First, while governments around the world have locked us down, they have nearly all accepted that we need to exercise. Yes, universal official recognition that exercise, ie sport, is a key element of human wellbeing. That’s a really major step forward. 

Second, even without official prompting, millions of households – including many whose previous max-exertion had been clicking open a can of beer – are steaming up their living rooms with daily (or at least weekly) workouts in front of Joe Wicks and dozens of other TV coaches/trainers. 

Everything from garden pat-ball to kitchen pilates is given a go. Why? Because otherwise the kids, who instinctively know best in these matters, will drive us bonkers; and because we’re just a little bit scared: Covid strikes the unhealthy far harder than the healthy. 

Panting and sweating done for the day, we collapse onto the sofa and watch replays of the superhumanly graceful Nadia Comăneci score a perfect 10 in the 1976 Olympics, or Manchester United’s triple triumphs of 1998-99, or a succession of Usain Bolt’s hundred metres victories. 


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A post shared by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on Apr 13, 2020 at 7:39am PDT

But it’s not the same as the real thing, is it? 

We know the results before they start. No butterflies in the stomach, no desperately hoping for our team to win against all the odds, no live theatre.

Point three: the absence of new sport brings home to us just how fantastically exciting the original is. 

As the pandemic is forcing us to remodel our health services, introducing almost overnight reforms that might otherwise have taken years (e.g. video consultations), it is also forcing much needed change. 

Take rugby, for example. Facing the financial ruin of smaller but brilliantly talented unions such a Fiji, there are serious plans to reorganise the world game on a more equitable basis. Silver lining? This one’s gold.

My fifth and final point strikes me when I pick up the paper and turn instinctively to the back page. Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. 

Sometimes it’s a full-page advert and sometimes it’s a desperate piece about the tax paid by Premier League Players. But no real sport.

I miss it! The old Roman poet sure got it right when he scribbled all those years ago, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’

What a feast lies ahead of us!

Finishing the winter sport competitions, the summer sports crammed into an abundance of delight, on to the winter sports again, then regional and world cups, and to crown it all: the re-scheduled Tokyo Olympics.

I can’t wait. Can you?