Sports On Pause

Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast about how COVID-19 is impacting sports around the world. They talk to experts, athletes and personalities, putting big news into perspective, highlighting great journalism and offering a window into the lives of people we normally root for in entirely different ways.

Recent Episodes
EP-28: Inside The NHL Bubbles
Aug 7, 2020
Aug 7, 2020
EP-28: Inside The NHL Bubbles

As players in other sports opt out and test positive, bubbles are proving to be the way to go to keep everyone involved safe from COVID-19. The NHL has had two positive tests since mid-July and none in its bubbles, the TV product has been pretty much exactly the same — minus fans in the stands — and the early game play has been better than expected. 

So how did the NHL pull this off?

Steve Mayer is the league’s Chief Content Officer — the person responsible for creating the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles. He joins Richard and Donnovan to discuss the planning process, operations, borrowing from other leagues, fulfilling team requests, "#WeSkatefor Black Lives" and crisis management.

Then Sportsnet senior hockey writer Chris Johnston takes listeners inside the Toronto bubble from a media perspective: his day-to-day, entering the bubble, challenges getting exclusive interviews and his thoughts on the overall play thus far.

COVID-19 Resources: (1) WIRED: Covid-19 Data in the US Is an ‘Information Catastrophe’ (2) WIRED: Anthony Fauci Explains Why the US Still Hasn’t Beaten Covid (3) THE Sydney Morning Herald: Please stop calling healthcare workers ‘heroes’. It’s killing us

This episode is scripted, produced and sound designed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Donnovan Bennett and Richard Deitsch. Archival support was provided by Adrian Cheddie.

Audio Credits: NHL Network, Sportsnet 650, WCMC, WFLA and WXDX.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Media Inc. or any affiliate.

Jul 31, 2020
EP-27: Major League Baseball Is In Trouble

Just about a week into the season and already the Miami Marlins have seen their campaign paused due to a major COVID-19 outbreak and other series are being postponed due to positive tests around the league. Richard and Donnovan discuss the trouble Major League Baseball is in with two guests.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle shares her thoughts on the outbreaks, if we’ll see more players opt out, what type of safety protocols are in place for media in Oakland and if commissioner Manfred has done enough to ensure the safety of MLB players and staff. 

Epidemiologist Zachary Binney is back. He questions MLB’s use of contact tracing, discusses when it will be safe for the Marlins to play again, what types of behaviour players should be avoiding and if an MLB bubble would have been best.

COVID-19 Resources: (1) Sportsnet: The inside story of Raptors’ Black Lives Matter face masks (2) Wellcome Collection: A history of medical masks (3) National Geographic: Buddy, first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., has died

This episode is scripted, produced and sound designed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Donnovan Bennett and Richard Deitsch. Adrian Cheddie provided archival support and Jeff Azzopardi assisted in the production of this episode.

Audio Credits: ABC Good Morning America, ABC Sports Radio and MASN.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Media Inc. or any affiliate.

Jul 24, 2020
EP-26: Pandemic Play-By-Play

Three leagues. Three situations. Three broadcasters.

The NBA, NHL and MLB have landed on different plans to get back to playing. And how the games will be broadcasted will depend on the situation. Richard and Donnovan are joined by three veteran voices of the games to discuss how they will be working during the most unique summer of sports in history.

Kevin Harlan will be in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Chris Cuthbert will be in Edmonton, one of the NHL’s two hub cities, and Dan Shulman will be in Toronto doing something no one else in his role has to deal with: calling 60 Blue Jays game from a studio in another country entirely. The three seasoned pros discuss the challenges they will face adapting to the new realities of their jobs, life in the bubbles (or not), safety protocols and more particulars of their circumstances.

COVID-19 Resources: (1) A Swing and a Belt with Dan Shulman (2) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The human experiment showing masks work

This episode is scripted, produced and sound designed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Donnovan Bennett and Richard Deitsch. Production assistance by Jeff Azzopardi, and Adrian Cheddie provided archival support for this episode.

Audio Credits: ABC (KSTP-TV), ESPN Radio, IOC and Turner Sports.The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Media Inc. or any affiliate.

Jul 17, 2020
EP-25: Cross-border Baseball

While lockdowns of varying degrees continue across the United States and Canada and other sports return in bubbles, Major League Baseball is set to become the first North American league to hold games on both sides of the 49th parallel. While a proposed exemption still needs federal sign-off from Ottawa,  Ontario premier Doug Ford is very confident MLB teams will be able to travel into and out of Toronto without adhering to the mandatory 14-day quarantine still under effect for international travellers to Canada. Meaning with just a week to go before Opening Day, the Blue Jays finally (almost) know where they will be playing their home games — at home.

Richard and Donnovan offer their thoughts on the ramifications for the league, team and the city, and are joined by epidemiologist Dr. Zachary Binney to discuss general concerns over the proposal, how it could work and why the government might not be as worried as some others.

COVID-19 Resources: (1) The Atlantic: Ed Yong (2) Fast Company: Forget telehealth. The future of medicine could be drive-through doctors

This episode is scripted, produced and sound designed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Donnovan Bennett and Richard Deitsch. Introduction by Alex Seixeiro.

Audio Credits: 680 News and CityNews.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Media Inc. or any affiliate.

Jul 6, 2020
EP-24: “An Imperfect Solution At A Very, Very Difficult Time”

Major League Soccer is set to return to action this week. And although COVID-19 is doing its best to make sure the MLS is Back Tournament doesn’t get off the ground as planned — including increasing numbers of positive teststravel issues for Canadian clubs and games being postponed — the first step in returning to play was the negotiations between the league and its players. Richard and Donnovan are joined by two guests who help shed some light on how those — at times contentious — talks proceeded.

Paul Tenorio of The Athletic explains the timeline of events and how the renegotiation of the CBA went sideways on a couple of occasions. Then Inter Miami goalkeeper and MLSPA executive board member Luis Robles offers his perspective on why the process was challenging and how it brought the Players Association closer together. 

COVID-19 Resources: (1) VOX: The Safety of Outdoor Patios: 7 Questions Answered (2) The New York Times: How The Virus Won (3) The Atlantic: The Dudes Who Won't Wear Masks

This episode is scripted, produced and sound designed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Donnovan Bennett and Richard Deitsch. Archival support by Adrian Cheddie.

Audio Credits: CBS Los Angeles, CBS Miami and ESPN.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Media Inc. or any affiliate.