Column – From the Bench: Staying connected to sports, even when it seems like there’s nothing happening

Even in a time when there are no live sports to watch on TV, you can still stay engaged and gain a deeper understanding of the wide world of sports. Between the draft, football drama, learning a new skill, or even just learning sports history, there’s something sports-related for everyone to occupy their time with.

Most sports leagues in the U.S. have been temporarily suspended. The NFL, however, continues in its offseason as it leads up to the NFL draft. With free agency under way, there’s been an explosion of activity, and now is a great time to analyze the signings and trades.

Tom Brady is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. After spending his entire career with the Patriots, Brady has opted not to retire, instead combining with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in Tampa to create a potentially tantalizing offense next season.

DeAndre Hopkins now resides in Arizona, with David Johnson going the other way to Houston in a trade that boggled NFL fans. It has been a while since Johnson’s 2016 season where he dominated the NFL’s rushing statistics, but DeShaun Watson may breathe life into the out-of-form running back. As for Hopkins, he joins Kyler Murray and a future hall-of-fame player in Larry Fitzgerald.

Another move that’s gaining attention is how the Carolina Panthers are handling Cam Newton. After bringing in Teddy Bridgewater from the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers are releasing Cam Newton. One of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play football is available for free right now.

If you’re more interested in the rising stars of football, look at prospects for the NFL Draft. The draft is still scheduled to take place in April, leaving a month until some of the top college prospects embark on their professional careers.

While there is talent stacked across the draft including the likes of Joe Burrow, Liberty University’s Antonio Gandy-Golden is projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round of the draft. Gandy-Golden could be the earliest drafted player in Liberty’s history, surpassing Eric Green who was drafted 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990 NFL Draft.

Keeping on the topic of Liberty University, Game On is still broadcasting. Every Friday, the show is live on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. EST.

If college sports provide little interest to you, I do suggest that you purchase an ESPN+ subscription. The subscription normally provides access to some live sports, but there are still plenty of replays available. If you want soccer, catch up on some Serie A games featuring teams like Juventus F.C. and Inter Milan.

On ESPN+, you can also watch documentaries in the “30 for 30 series.” Plenty of these documentaries can bring unique perspectives to sports. If you do not want to pay for something like ESPN+, there is still plenty of information to find on YouTube.

With plenty of documentaries and old games to watch, right now is a great time to catch up on sports history. Plenty of historical feats occurred before our lifetimes. Finding the history behind legendary achievements can provide enjoyment, improve your understanding of a particular sport or inspire you in your life.

If none of this sounds interesting, perhaps try learning a sport. You may not have the space or the equipment to play it like the pros, but that’s part of the fun in sports. I can guarantee you that you will certainly pass some time in attempting to learn.

When the coronavirus pandemic calms down, many will go back to watching live sports. In the meantime, hopefully you can stay engaged and grow a deeper understanding of sports, enabling you to appreciate them even more when they return.

Randle is a sports reporter.

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