It's mid-July and the usual banter about whether poor pitching will keep the Red Sox from reaching the playoffs is nowhere to be heard. Tom Brady did the unthinkable, leaving the Patriots to prepare for their first post-Brady season and the buzz is muted.

What's up with that?

Could the COVID-19 coronavirus and Black Lives Matter have tag-teamed to destroy sports as we know it? Was it a conspiracy?

Empty stadiums, masks, and frequent handwashing have taken a lot of the luster out of sports as we know it. Can you imagine social distancing on a football field? And what about all of the perspiration that drips all over a basketball court? Can that be healthy?

As if the pandemic concerns weren't enough, the cancel culture has rekindled the debate about team names. We are told to expect two national anthems before games and that players will be wearing political messages on their uniforms when sports resume. Players who were told not to take a knee last season will now be encouraged to do so.

What is this? Who are these political correctness terrorists to interfere with sports? Would the "Splendid Splinter" ever even consider wearing a face mask? Would Mean Joe Greene take a knee for anyone? Come on, man.

With pandemics and political strife ripping at the seams of our country, there has never been a time when we need the escapism of sports as much as we do now. But you can't escape. Politics and the pandemic have taken over the ballfields and courts of America. There is no getting away from it.

It's enough to drive a battered soul to the Hallmark Channel for a little relief.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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