Big Ifs

America’s Big 3 sports leagues set to resume in days
Saints Panthers Football
Professional football, baseball, and basketball are set to start play before the end of the month. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

 

We’re living in extraordinary times. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced our society to step outside of normal, day-to-day living for the past five months. Precautions, including cancelling or delaying sports, have been made to keep society as safe as possible. But in the next couple of weeks, if the nation can get transmission of the disease under control, sports will be back in a big way.

Late July usually marks the start of the second half of the Major League Baseball season. The pennant chase usually heats up following the mid-summer All-Star Game, but this year, professional baseball didn’t start in the spring. With precaution in mind, MLB cut its teams’ 2020 season from 162 games to 60. The first pitch of the season is scheduled for Thursday night when the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees.

On July 30, the National Basketball Association will resume its 2019-20 NBA season, after going on hiatus on March 11 due to the pandemic. The NBA’s Board of Governors has approved 22 of its 30 teams to finish the season. A unique aspect of pro basketball’s return is where games will be played. To try to protect players, coaches, and team and league officials, the NBA has quarantined its teams at a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The end of July traditionally brings the opening of National Football League training camps. With health precautions in place, the NFL will start camps on time, but it has cut its preseason schedule in half to two games. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday, August 20. But if the players’ union has its way, all preseason games could be eliminated.

Of course, the return of the MLB, NBA, and NFL are all predicated on the health and safety of all involved. Despite hope that the coming season would be able to go forward as normal, there are signs that normality is still out of arm’s reach. Games will be played without fans present until it is deemed safe. Unfortunately, right now, there is no telling when that will be.

College sports were cancelled in the winter and spring, and some conferences have already altered their plans for the autumn. The Ivy League will not participate in fall sports, the Big 10 said its teams would only play an in-conference schedule, and others, including the Southeastern Conference, are making ancillary plans to try to salvage part or the entirety of the season.

After going months without major sports, we are just days away from seeing the return of the United States’ three biggest professional sports leagues. After traversing a desert of action, sports will once again become a ubiquitous presence – IF – we can control COVID’s transmission and create a safe environment for players, staff, and fans. We’re in this together. It’s going to take a team effort – with all working toward the same goal – to secure this victory.

 

 

Categories: The Pennant Chase
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