The entire world has been changed by COVID-19 at this point. Some states are in total lockdown while others are just in a stay-at-home order. The one thing we can guarantee is that sports won’t be back by the end of this month like originally planned.
The NHL, NBA, and MLB are all looking for ways to continue their season in some way, shape, or form. All leagues have been talking about potentially using a certain amount of cities and stationing every team there until the season is over. Nothing has been officially confirmed yet.
As of right now, only three people in the NFL have officially tested positive. They are New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, Edge Rusher for the Denver Broncos Von Miller, and OL Brian Allen. Theoretically, as it stands right now, football could return on time when the pre-season is scheduled to start.
President Donald Trump held a meeting with the commissioners of all sports late last week. In that meeting, it is speculated that he said he expected the NFL season to start on time with fans in the crowd. This seems highly unlikely at this stage though.
Major League Baseball:
The MLB has been floating the idea of using spring training locations to start their seasons with no fans. They are looking to start by June 1st at the latest. The reality of that happening seems rather slim. I wouldn’t be surprised if this entire season ends up being cancelled.
National Basketball Association
The NBA was going to start playing in empty arenas right before Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert became the sports worlds patient zero. They may just go back to that once they get the all-good from heath officials.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has stated that he wouldn’t want the end of this season to interfere with the start of next season. However, it could be beneficial to the league to start a shortened playoffs if they HAVE to in September or October and start the season with the usual Christmas Day slate and run into the summer. This also helps them avoid conflicting with the NFL and taking the sports audience away from the MLB.
National Hockey League
The NHL has the most to lose. They don’t have those big money TV contracts like the MLB and NBA. Instead, they rely heavily on the gate prices to make their profit. If they miss out on the entire season, look for the cap room to decrease moving forward.
The idea that playing in the summer is a bad idea because of “bad ice” is a joke. Everyone wants a playoff system to crown a champion. One arena having bad ice doesn’t give anyone an advantage over another because everyone would have bad ice. This is even if they use normal arenas for this.
World Wrestling Entertainment
WWE went forward with Wrestlemania from their Performance Center in Florida. They could only have a certain number of people in the building at one time and had to pre-record each match to play on TV. Multiple matches had to be changed at the last minute due to superstars going into quarantine or having a temperature of over 100.4 degrees, which was WWE’s limit to compete.
Since then the WWE had gone back and fourth on whether or not they want to be live or pre-taped, but they have continued on with the show.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
The UFC seemed to not want to give up on hosting events, as they had looked into purchasing an island and building a structure so they can fly fighters in to continue the show. That plan didn’t pan out and they ended up going on a hiatus.
According to the organization they are planning an event in May, but many have pulled out due to Coronavirus already. There is a good chance they will be pressured into shutting down this event as well.
How Can We Return?
The real question becomes, “What happens when a player tests positive in the future?” Every league is going to have to have a threshold. They can’t start up again just to be shut down because we didn’t know a random player was COVID-19 positive.
This means that if a player is sick and tests positive, then they are just sent home. No questions asked, no dock in pay. If a certain amount of players then test positive after that, then the league will once again have to shut down. There is no specific number that I have for this, however, it seems most likely to be what will happen.
Another thing they could do is stagger fans in the crowd. The human race won’t feel comfortable going into big crowds right away as it is. We still don’t know if our neighbor has or has not had this virus. If you checkerboard the arena/stadium, that will at least give every person space around them so that they do not feel so close to the next person and help ensure some safety.
The arena/stadium would only be able to sell half the tickets to the event so this would never be able to stay long term. The sports fans who go to events will dictate how the leagues move forward. Imagine they open up a game to the public and it only sells 5,000 tickets. An owner would go into crisis mode to try and figure out a way to ensure fan safety to continue to sell more tickets.
Picture Source: NYPost.com
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