It almost feels unreal right? Sports already have returned here in the United States.
At the same time, the amount of Covid-19 cases have spiked throughout the country. Other nations around the world who handled the pandemic differently have seen a drastic drop as they lead the charge in returning to normalcy.
Now if you know me personally, you know I eat, sleep and breathe sports. This is the same guy who went to college with the goal of pursuing a career in sports journalism. The same guy who ditched his homecoming date freshman year because his favorite college football team went into double overtime that Saturday night. The same guy who took an overnight train from Anaheim to Santa Clara, slept 2 hours at the station and walked 30 minutes to Levi’s Stadium to see my favorite NFL team play.
I could go on and tell you other examples of my devotion to sports, but you get the idea. I’m usually the optimistic, positive-minded person among my friend groups too.
Keep all those things in mind as you read the rest of this article.
The return to professional sports almost feels rushed at this point in time. While I understand the importance of sports for the economy and the average fan’s sense of well-being, it doesn’t feel right returning to action just yet.
We are living in very unpredictable times and each day something new related to the coronavirus hits the news cycle. “Wear a mask,” “We can return to schools,” “Don’t return to schools,” “Close all barbershops,” “Essential businesses can stay open though,” “Restaurants can reopen but patio only,” and so on and so forth. It’s all quite exhausting if you ask me.
While the NBA’s and MLS’ bubble and the MLB’s empty stadiums methods sound like solid ideas, there were multiple players in each league that had decided to join their teams this season. Names like David Price, Avery Bradley, Buster Posey, and Trevor Ariza among others decided returning to sports was not worth the risk.
Lo and behold, each league’s plans weren’t bulletproof either. The MLS had to postpone two of their first eight games and even sent two teams home after players tested positive for Covid-19. Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Louis Williams was caught leaving the NBA bubble to attend a strip club in Atlanta and will have to quarantine for 10 days. And the most bizarre of them all, the Miami Marlins had a player test positive July 26th, yet still went on to play their game against the Philadelphia Phillies. 17 players and coaches tested positive for Covid-19 just two days later causing league-wide panic.
Mind you, this is all within each league’s first month of returning to action. Similar things may reoccur, heck even worse things may happen in the next two to three months.
I want to see the conclusion of the NBA season just as much as everybody else, but what if 10% or even 20% of the league catches Covid-19 and we see depleted rosters? What if an elderly head coach catches the virus and is in critical condition? What if players of high caliber such as Lebron James or Kawhi Leonard caught the virus and were forced to quarantine right before a Game 7? Then what?
The same goes for the MLB, NHL and the other leagues returning to action. While baseball is in a far different scenario from the others because their regular season never officially started this spring, a sudden shut down of the league would still anger many fans, team personnel and players.
With that many uncontrollable variables, I would hate for any of the leagues to shut down operations again mid-season or mid-postseason.
And don’t even get me started on the NFL or College Football. Both leagues have yet to make a decision on what their season could potentially look like but it is looking less and less likely that they will play in the fall.
An alternate option the leagues should have considered is what the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) announced back on July 9th; push everything back to next Spring. The California Interscholastic Federation, who governs high school sports in California, soon followed and announced fall sports would be delayed until 2021.
Sure, another six months to wait for sports seems daunting. I want to see home runs, web gems, penalty kicks, four-point plays and perfectly-timed alley-oops just as much as the next fan. But, I understand that we don’t have everything under control when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus. What worries me is we might not have it under control by January 2021 either.
Who knows what the price we may pay for trying to return to normalcy too early? A player or coach’s death? What about the death of an athlete’s family member, a referee/umpire or even a member of the media?
And to play devil’s advocate; none of that could happen and the leagues could go on to finish their seasons with no major hiccups. Seems like we are playing with fire at the moment.
Best case scenario, each league pulls this off and its deemed a huge success. Worst case scenario, a world without sports for a year, maybe more? I’m sure everyone has their own idea of what a worst-case scenario may look like.
But I wish to end this article on a positive note. Here’s to taking it one day at a time and hoping the spread of the virus maintains under control and we can enjoy our sports. I know for my sanity’s sake and many others, we need it.