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Coronavirus: Watching sport in the time of Covid-19


With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to keep us cooped up at home, several TV channels in Spain have been offering their viewers epic sporting feats from the past, from the worlds of cycling, football, basketball, motorsport, tennis… And indeed feats that weren’t so epic: the programme 'Fútbol Replay’ is also showing repeats of nigh-on forgotten games whose results we may not recall right off the bat. The bonus there is that you get the intrigue of not knowing how it finished. Mostly, it’s more memorable occasions that are being put on, though. Just this once, we have absolute licence to say that, yes, things really were better in the past - after all, we were free to leave the house. And to play and watch sport.

Youngsters have the chance to get to know the stars of yesteryear amid coronavirus confinement

It’s a welcome initiative by Spain’s TV stations, who at a stroke have vindicated the hard work of Paco Grande, a journalist at Spanish state broadcaster TVE, who for many years has been carefully crafting reports on the sport of yesteryear. Dismissed almost as an odd ball for his dedication to venturing deep into the archives where the ghosts of sport past reside, he’s now TVE’s go-to man as they look to dig up some event or another. Who knows how long we’ll be living off these trips down memory lane to watch sport, both on TV and on online services that are also offering us the chance. I know young kids who are now getting to know the likes of Garrincha and Ferenc Puskas - all too familiar to me, but faceless names for them.

The younger generations have had the chance to get to know stars of yesteryear such as Ferenc Puskas, second right.
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The younger generations have had the chance to get to know stars of yesteryear such as Ferenc Puskas, second right.AFP

And as we pass the time watching footage from the vaults, we are left in no doubt about the strides that sport has made. For a start, the broadcasting. It’s striking to see the shakiness of the images filmed on the back of motorbikes at the Tour de France, and to see what watching football was like pre-HD. But it’s a treat to see the heroes of before once again, and it’s also great that the younger generations get to watch them, having heard us bang on about their exploits. Every sport is better today than before, but these figures were the cream of the crop in their time and played their part in the progress their discipline has made. And now they’ve returned to make this period of confinement that bit more bearable.

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