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A sad day in print journalism came upon us on June 6.

Stan Behal retired after 37 years as a photographer for Sun Media and while you can think what you want about the Sun chain, Behal was far and away the best sports snapper in the business, IMHO. There are a litany of shots that make up his legacy: Ben Johnson with his finger in the air after he won gold at the 1988 Summer Olympics thanks to Stanozolol, Gael Monfils at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in 2015 but my personal favourite was The Shot by Kawhi Leonard against Philadelphia during the Toronto Raptors run to the title in 2019.

All the best, Stan and thanks for the photo album.

Anyway …

It’s cute but also genius

So no one can still watch professional sports live … unless you live in Belarus and it’s game on over there.

How does one create an atmosphere then if no one is around to watch it? Pipe in some crowd noise? Music, perhaps?

Not even close. You fill the stadium with stuffed animals.

It happened in the Korea Baseball Organization on June 7 as the NC Dinos took on the Hanwha Eagles. Adorning the seats were many, many cuddly inanimate objects with SpongeBob SquarePants, Winnie The Pooh and the Minions making appearances. I had a good laugh as did some of us here in the newsroom when we saw it.

You know, this will solve the attendance problem in no time. Imagine if you were playing in front of thousands of these things and no one is around to yell at you because of it. I’m not kidding – every major sports organization around the world should jump on this. Teams could sell them, put their name on it or something with a portion going to charity. Everyone’s a winner when you use stuffed animals.

Besides, it’s a much better look than the sex dolls used by FC Seoul in one of their soccer matches last month.

Meanwhile in Denmark …

The Danish Superliga is back in action and it, too, has no fans to speak of.

At least not in the stands.

While the stuffed animal craze hasn’t hit there yet, there was still a novel way for fans to be a part of the match-up between AGF Aarhus and Randers late last month.

AGF Aarhus hosted the game at their home base of Ceres Park and invited 10,000 fans to join in on a group chat through Zoom.
Their noise and chants were piped in through the stadium’s loudspeakers and created a very decent atmosphere.
Here’s how they did it:

Fans were asked to sign up ahead of the contest for virtual tickets based on where they would have been sitting had they been allowed to congregate beside among one another.

The fans were put together in groups of 18 via video call and those groups were rotated on the large video screens set up inside the park. Being that it was soccer, there was even a smaller screen for Randers supporters to be a part of it all.

Naturally, AGF Aarhus had plenty of moderators to make sure everything stayed clean and family-friendly, save for the two dinguses who decided to show everyone their shortcomings on the live feed.

There’s has been some apparent overtures from teams in England on how to do this when the Premier League returns on June 17 and also from teams in the Netherlands and Norway.

I’ll say this: Covid-19 has brought out the cleverness in people.

And finally …

Good Idea: Watching young Mio Halvorsen play hockey.

Bad Idea: Having to wait 16 years before he’s eligible to be drafted.

You know, I really hope there’s a vaccine in the next decade or so because Mio Halvorsen is going to take the world by storm.

Halvorsen has been the talk of the hockey world and his legend continues to grow as more and more videos of him playing hit the interwebs.
And he’s a grand total of two years old.

Watching him move on the ice is something to behold, especially when you consider that most two-year-olds are still trying to figure out what foot goes in front of the other when they walk. He has some serious speed and while the puck-handling isn’t there yet, he still knows what to do with it when he gets it.

Mio has been working with former NHLer Espn Knutsen on his development and you know it’s only going to get better from here.

Mark my words here and now: Mio Halvorsen will be the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft in 2036.

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James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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