As we head toward the end of March in the early stages of 2020, there are no sports. I don’t know if you have heard by now, but there is this thing called COVID-19 affecting the sports world as we speak.
Right now, in American sports, we should be seeing the NBA barrel ahead toward playoff season. We should see MLB teams gearing up to begin the slow 162-game march of the regular season. There should be pro days happening for top college football players looking to make the leap to the NFL.
Instead, we have a few WWE wrestling matches going on in empty arenas and a whole lot more NFL free agency coverage than what is typical for late March.
What happens next?
Well for the NBA, trying to figure out what to do with the remainder of the season is the top priority. Some reports have disclosed that the league is targeting a June return date. Obviously this is a fluid situation, and
much of the decision making to come depends solely on how fast we can “flatten the curve” of the virus.
A positive side effect of the work stoppage is the creativity displayed in terms of what the NBA could do to properly end the 2019-2020 season. Is a play-in tournament like some have suggested a good choice? Moreover, should the league jump straight to the playoffs? Should we even have any playoffs?
All of the questions are valid, but one that is not being talked about enough is how all of this is going to affect player safety. How can fans expect players to go straight from the couch to playing NBA games in a matter of
days? The speed at which games are played combined with the level of athleticism which is required to have a chance to win is likely immeasurable.
Players will almost certainly be out of shape. Even those who do everything they can to maintain themselves physically will not be ready right away to compete in NBA games. All of these concerns are valid and will play a role in deciding how the rest of the NBA season is to be played.
For the MLB, there are similar health concerns. Spring Training has been shut down leaguewide for some time now. Without the usual progression of getting ready to play through training camp, the injury risk for
players, especially pitchers, will go up significantly.
The way in which the league handles how fast the season will start once state and local governments have given the all clear will be interesting.
Another thing to note is that having the virus strike across the country put an end to the media coverage on the MLB cheating scandals which were a hot topic this offseason.
How will fans of the game react to a team like the Houston Astros, the biggest cheaters in baseball as of this offseason, once people have their minds off of the virus? Only time will tell.
I would like to give a shout out to all of the leagues, teams, players and staff whose work to make this crisis a little easier on everybody has not gone unnoticed. I speak for a large majority of Americans by saying that I want my sports back. I miss the daily routine of opening my phone to a barrage of reports, stats, highlights and other fun tidbits about the various awesome
leagues I am privileged to follow.