Almost all sporting events, major and minor, have been canceled or postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, many of the top sports are expected to return between the end of July and August.
Major Sports and Their Timetables for Return
The NBA’s Board of Governors approved a plan to resume the league on July 30, with 22 teams playing and living at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney. There will be no fans in attendance at these games.
July 8, MLS is scheduled to make their comeback with their MLS Is Back Tournament, also held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
July 24, MLB is finally returning after Rob Manfred used his power as commissioner to push through a 60-game season with the players receiving fully prorated salaries. The WNBA is also expected to return in late July, as well as very golf tournaments and tennis events.
The NHL is scheduled to return on July 30, starting with a qualifying round for the bottom-tier playoff teams and a round-robin tournament for the top four teams of each conference. The NHL is still in the process of selecting two “hub cities” in which each conference will play their games.
With Return, Comes Risk
However, the return of sporting events is a huge risk. Coronavirus cases have been increasing lately, and many college and professional athletes have been testing positive as of late.
As the NBA gears up for a return to play in Orlando, figures show that 5,000 new cases of the virus are confirmed in Florida today, as the death toll passed 3,300. Also, Texas reported 6,000 new cases in a single day. The pandemic is spreading at a fast rate, and leagues cannot guarantee athletes’ safety even if they have the best facilities and treatment provided.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic tested positive for coronavirus two days ago, so his return to America has been delayed. Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Parker, and Alex Len also all tested positive recently.
According to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading public health expert on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, sports should only return if the number of cases is far lower than it is now. Getting it under control, he says, will take longer than anyone would likely expect.
He also mentioned that besides the athletes, hundreds of staff members who have to run the stadium and facilities are at huge risk, too. He then urged the necessity of keeping the six-foot distance rule and wearing face coverings to reduce contamination.
Is Now Even the Right Social Climate for Sports?
The coronavirus is not the only problem from the return of sporting events. The death of George Floyd has caused numerous riots throughout the country, affecting protestors, police officers, and business owners whose private property was damaged and stolen by rioters.
Many athletes and analysts have expressed their thoughts through social media about sporting events resuming. Players like Kyrie Irving and ex-NBA player Stephen Jackson believe that the NBA’s return would only take away from the attention on racial injustice. However, players like Lebron James and Matt Barnes believe that the return of the NBA would bring the players together and help recognize and forward the movement.
When sporting events return, I believe that it will create a distraction, and people’s attention will be diverted from the global issue that society faces today. For some athletes, playing sports is not a priority, as they try to tackle greater societal problems.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver allowed players to sit out for the rest of the season if they want. However, if some players for teams are missing and the athletes playing the sport are not focused, it would decrease the competitiveness of the sport, bringing down the value of the games.
In addition, many athletes have gone months without training. Even if they were able to exercise, it would have been home workouts or conditioning. Hence, they would be more injury-prone. Athletes should have more time to recover and rebuild from the absence of sports.