The Days Sports Took a Backseat
About a month has passed since the world of sports stopped after the spread of COVID-19. The lasting image in my mind and fans everywhere is the caution tape covering the floor in Oklahoma City after the announcement that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus just minutes before tipoff. After that day, all NBA games and all major sports came to halt.
The NHL and NBA playoffs were supposed to be in full swing starting this week, but it is best believed that the NBA will cancel its remanding season, pending an agreement between the NBA Players Association and the league. The unknown end date of this pandemic is the source of uncertainty for any return to play. There is controversy in an unfair advantage for players with indoor training facilities while gyms and fitness centers are shut down from the virus. LeBron James has a full indoor gym and Giannis Antetokounmpo who has a court in his home, and this would benefit players with access. Interestingly, the Los Angeles Lakers are staying in shape as a team with virtual Zoom video workouts at certain times of the day.
The NHL has similarly remained silent on a possible return, though their plan is to resume play over the summer. Major League Baseball was in the middle of Spring Training in Florida and Arizona when the pandemic hit the States, knocking it off its late-March regular season start. Speaking of Arizona, MLB released a plan to have regular season games held exclusively in Arizona as a compromise to the quarantine. The games would consist of empty stands, robotic umpire, and dugouts with players six feet apart.
With a handful of Spring Training and Division 1 baseball facilities within 50 miles this plan is theoretically possibly with limited travel and exposure. This proposal has multiple steps of approval to go until it happens, but some MLB players are not opposed if it means getting good games in. “If its safe and guys are interested, then I’m in.” said Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado. A quick spring training before the season would have to take place but I am very interested to see how the league goes about this.
The NFL figures to hurt the least from quarantine plans, though the NFL draft was scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas. The Draft will still go on as scheduled but there will be no iconic stage for the players to shake NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand on as the draft is held virtually. This giant FaceTime-like concept will show prospects from their homes reacting to the life-changing news of being drafted by an NFL franchise. Although this is not as exciting as a view of the Las Vegas Strip, I credit the League for moving forward with the Draft. Canceled pro days and no face-to-face contact are a cause of logistic frustration for NFL franchises, but I respect the league for giving the sports world hope with a live event.
Overseas, the English Premier League was put on hold in addition to all European soccer leagues. Tottenham Hotspurs manager Jose Mourinho was under the microscope this week as he held an unauthorized secret workout with his players while the pandemic rages on in the United Kingdom. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea player Callum Hudson-Odoi previously tested positive for COVID-19, and this will weigh in on the EPL’s punishment for Mourinho and Tottenham.
Possibly the biggest bombshell in the sports world was the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games until the following summer. This is unfortunate for the athletes who now have to train for an extra year or potentially drop out of the rescheduled events.
In the absence of live sports on television, sports leagues hope to lighten the mood. NBA players are participating in televised NBA 2K tournaments to raise money for COVID-19 funding. ESPN also announced a H.O.R.S.E competition with NBA stars and alums including Celtics legend Paul Pierce starting this Sunday at 7 p.m. Players will challenge one another from their homes as they create shots to top one another with this classic driveway game.
Some superstars in the sports world have been posting online workouts like New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. These workouts allow fans to train like the pros while stuck in the house
. Sports mean everything to me. Its what I watch everyday and without it live the world just doesn’t spin the same, but we know there are people fighting for their lives with doctors and first responders risking their own for the greater good.
There will be highlights for us to watch and events for us to re-watch again and again as we passed time but the best part about sports is how it brings people together. We will not know when this quarantine will end, but that makes a moment of unity on the field or on the court that much more special when it happens
So, while we sit here and wait on that day to come, we can only wait and get excited for the day to be a fan in the stands and being apart of the crowd again. But for now, we must cheer for something bigger and more important than any game.