Live sports will return when it’s safe to play them in groups in public, and hopefully when crowds can assemble without fear of worsening the COVID-19 pandemic. And when that’s the case, whether this summer or fall or beyond, those that work in sports are eager to help bring them back. That includes NBC Sports announcer Doc Emrick, who on Sunday shared an emotional video he narrated about the potential return of hockey.
The video started as a message Emrick shared on an NBC Sports production call, which is now held remotely as employees stay home and wait for the worst of the pandemic to take its toll. The speech was then turned into a video he narrated over shots of hockey games, players, anthem ceremonies and cheering crowds of people, all things not possible as the world practices social distancing.
Emrick commended those essential employees still working, including those at grocery stores and hospital workers doing their best to treat the sick and develop cures that can return life in America back to normal. He also noted the kindness of humans of all races and economic classes.
One day, we will all be together again.
And when that day comes, our gratitude for those who helped get us there will overflow.
That, truly, is Doc Emrick's dream. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Y7r5cGxBWP
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 12, 2020
“And over this month I learned that credit cards are less germy than cash,” Emrick said as video ran of Oprah donating a million dollars and a gas station owner advertising free gas for nurses. “And even millionaires and those with very little are generous.”
The emotional heft of the narration came when Emrick described a potential return to hockey, and what it would mean for the broadcaster to call the first game back when hockey can provide relief for Americans currently searching for distractions from reality in a world largely without sports.
My dream is that all of us who travel and eventually get to a TV truck, or maybe we get to an announce booth for that long-awaited next game And we look down at the start and the players are lined up on the blue line and the lights are down and the spotlights are on. There will be a moment of silence. Perhaps in an arena empty. And then a ceremonial puck drop that will involve a doctor or a nurse or some other hero. Or a virus survivor or, sadly, a virus victim’s family. And then that heartening applause, if there are fans, or stick taps from the players reserved for those who have sacrificed in a way that has nothing to do with sports.
And then the introduction of the anthem and I imagine the vocalist will have help from the crowd if there is one. And our professionals in the truck will show the flag, and the singer, and those nervous players bobbing back and forth at the bench. Maybe some service personnel on the ice in a salute. And after that, if we can keep it together, a deep breath. And finally we get to do what we can do after all the time: help people appreciate what they’ve been waiting to see. And being so grateful to all who helped us to get there.
What a joyful day that will be for us because finally, we get to help. That’s what I’m dreaming of. And yet it cannot happen before it’s time. And while we all wait and do what we can although it seems like so little, I wish you a good and safe Easter and Passover.
It’s a lovely gesture from one of the best in the business, and it’s a breath of fresh air in an industry where those at the top can often seem self-important. Hockey has its place, and it will have its time. Emrick can’t wait for that to be the case. But right now it’s a nice reminder that there are more important things happening in the world, and Emrick wants those that usually rely on his words to put sports into context to focus on who the true heroes are right now.