COVID Sports Options

COVID Sports Options

Now is the time to dive into replay action in sports that offer an entertaining experience but are not mainstream. Doing this guarantees that you’re watching an event where the outcome is unknown. The following three happen to be the sports I follow the most anyway (I’m a niche type of guy), so I thought I’d drop a note on what I find enjoyable to watch and where to find them.

Cycling on NBC Gold

Tour de France Logo
Tour de France Logo

Professional road cycling is a niche sport but wildly popular in parts of Europe. You would think that it’s pretty straightforward, just dudes riding bikes, but there’s a lot of strategy and intense endurance requirements to be competitive. I started watching Le Tour de France, but after finding myself diving deeper into the sport I began watching other races including the second most famous race La Vuelta a Espana (unfortunately Il Giro de Italia is only broadcasted on a separate streaming service). There are plenty of other races, including UCI sanctioned races in cyclo-cross, that you can watch as well if you’re into endurance type events. 

Phil Liggett and Bob Roll have commentating duties and you learn a lot listening to them. You’ll also get history lessons as you take in the European countryside via helicopter. Right now on NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass you can watch replays of the 2019 races including Paris-Nice and the classic Paris-Roubaix.

UFC on ESPN+

Watch the last two dozen UFC pay per views and quickly catch up with the progression of match ups that are being promoted today. See Khabib, McGregor, Nunes, Adesanya, and many others fighting in Dana White’s modern day gladiator circus. Don’t just watch the men’s divisions, the women’s are just as exciting too.

I’d suggest starting with UFC 236 and the Holloway/Poirier rematch and then going forward. You can then choose a fighter you like and just watch his/her events or binge them all from beginning to end.

BONUS: Watch the original UFC matches that started the whole phenomenon. As a kid, we’d rent these from the video store and watch them over and over again. My mom put a stop to it once she saw how violent they were but we loved them nonetheless.

NBA Finals on NBA TV

The NBA is not a niche sport, but they’re my favorite mainstream professional organization. The Finals are an incredible viewing spectacle but I don’t think as many people outside of NBA cities watch them, especially regions with strong NCAA Men’s Basketball teams. Although the app tells you the outcome of each game in the episode description, I’d suggest watching any of the last twenty series on NBA TV just to see your favorite stars in action. I love watching Shaq dominate the paint and remembering just how quick he was on his feet (people think it was only his size that made him so effective but it was much more).

It’s also great watching other Hall of Famers like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. I really think the best series is the 2010 Lakers versus Celtics. There you get Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher taking on Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. It’s hard to watch that and not appreciate just how clutch Bryant could be and how he stole that series from the all powerful Celtics. In many ways it was the end of a long storied rivalry between these two franchises that stretched back to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

BONUS: Although there are a lot of great inside NBA shows on the app, I’d suggest watching Open Court. One in particular features NBA team owners talking among themselves, nothing I’ve seen MLB or the NFL do, which I think is a shame. I like seeing their insights into the business and how they manage their teams. Personally I think professional sports are not worth the tax payer funded stadiums and $11 hot dogs it takes to keep them in a city, and if people understood it more as a business they’d see how they’re shamefully being manipulated. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see how the business side of it operates.

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