The year 2020 witnessed a paucity of live sport like we have not seen in decades. For fans, it meant staying away from stadiums for a large part of the 12 months. For the writers at, it meant a chance to reflect on events in the past and taking stock of what’s to come. This year-end series is a personal take on what covering sports in 2020 was like.

“What are you doing when sport itself has been cancelled?”

The year 2020 was meant to be a significant one for athletes around the world, across disciplines. Sure, every year and every event is important when you are a professional sportsperson. But this was meant to be the year of two T20 World Cups, a European football championship, and the biggest of them all: the Tokyo Olympic Games. And the regular seasons of events that would go along with these.

By extension, it was meant to be one of the busiest times in the lives of those covering these events as well. At the beginning of the year, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say plans were being made in newsrooms across the world to prepare for this cycle of events.

And then, ironically in a month named March, things started coming to a halt.

One event after another was getting cancelled, becoming near impossible to even keep up at one point. Live sport vanished from our living rooms. It did not take long to realise that it would be at least months before we see the return of sport, and even then it wouldn’t be anything close to normal.

Soon enough, nostalgia took centrestage. Sport is all about action and reaction, so it would actually not be an exaggeration to say that things got busier when there was no live sport to react to.

At, we got ourselves busy with a series of reports that would keep the website going. We kicked off The Field’s Rewind Series to revisit iconic moments from the world of sport, documented stories of succeeding against odds in How Sport Inspires because athletes are often a great source of life lessons. And then there was the Heroes Of The Sporting World series to highlight work of some who do not usually enjoy the limelight when live action is on constantly in our televisions.

Personally, one of the exercises that truly drove home how important sporting memories of the past are, was talking to fans across generations to find out what the 1983 World Cup win by Kapil Dev and Co meant to them. It was a reminder of why sports nostalgia, when done with the right perspectives, can be a life-affirming feeling.

Elsewhere, re-runs started dominating air-time. Great matches were “live blogged” again. athletes started interviewing each other remotely to give us great anecdotes with unprecedented candour, almost as if talking with their peers from the confines of their rooms, instead of facing the cameras and microphones, helped them open up like we rarely see.

It is worth remembering that the word nostalgia itself has its origins in a negative connotation. It was the term given to an ailment, where nostos stands for homesickness and algos means pain. It is only in modern language that the term has come to be used in a more positive sense, representing a sentimental yearning for what the mind perceives to be better, simpler times.

Even among sports fans, there is a school of thought that is nostalgia is given too much importance. “Nostalgia merchants” is a throwaway term that is used to sometimes criticise those who are stuck far too often in the past.

But this year, lockdown almost felt like a collective time machine, where lovers of sport transported themselves willingly to moments that we don’t get to reflect upon often enough. It was like pressing the pause, rewind and play buttons on an old VCR. As stadiums, gymnasiums and parks emptied around the world, the action moved to social media and YouTube.

The nostalgia was not the be-all-end-all of sport in 2020, mind you. The return of live events was exciting, a welcome relief sometimes, a diversion from problems still prevailing as we enter a new year. But, as the saying goes, the absence of a good thing makes the heart grow fonder.

Ultimately, sport is enjoyable in the present, because of memories formed in the past. And nostalgia, like hope, is a good thing, maybe the best of things when the chance to make new memories was taken away.

2020 might have deprived us of the headliner sporting events, but it gave us a chance to look back, a chance to clean up the rear-view mirrors on our sporting journeys before we drove forward once again. With everything else that was going in the world, that felt like a relief. After all, we don’t miss something if we never truly enjoyed it: when we missed sport this year, it was a reminder of why we love it the way we do.