It has been at least two months since we have seen a professional sports team in the U.S. play a regular-season game. The last time we saw an NBA, MLB, NHL, or any other athletes play was on March 11, 2020. There were multiple games played in the NHL, and the MLB finished their spring training games that day. But the last game that was planned for that day was in the NBA when the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma Thunder were planning on playing. However, a Jazz player fell ill that day and was later diagnosed with Covid-19. After that game was canceled, almost all sports leagues came to a complete stop.
The NBA was one of the first sports leagues to come out and say that all regular-season games will be postponed until May 15. After this came the NHL where the commissioner came out and said that all games will be postponed until a later date. Then came MLB who didn’t give a date, but said that their regular-season start date will come to a pause. As we enter June, there have been no sports games that have been played, but we may have an idea of when they might come back.
The MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, has been one of the more vocal commissioners that have come out and actually had a plan. Manfred’s original plan was to send all 32 baseball teams down to Arizona, where every single team would play in a remote area where MLB could control the exposure of the players. They would play seven innings games and would have to play two games per day to a spectator-less crowd. Also, all staff members, players, coaches, and media staff would be tested regularly and would have to do a temperature check. With this proposal, the players could only bring themselves, so no family members could be at the games or in the areas where the players would stay. When this idea first came out, there were split opinions on if players would actually do this or not. Some players were for giving it a try, while others felt like they should be there for their families during this uncertain time. Later, the commissioner threw that plan away and now we are hearing a new one that might actually come into effect sooner than we think. The new idea has teams playing on their regular baseball parks, still having no fans, and only allowing only media staff and team personnel into the stadiums. There would be an 82 game season. Now, this idea has gotten a lot of praise and could go into effect as early as July 1, 2020.
The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, had to make a decision earlier this month to either finish the basketball season or just leave it be. Before this, he had the idea to have no fans and to just continue the season, but after getting a lot of backlash from players around the league – like Lebron James – they decided to just hold off on the season. Now, more players have opened up about the idea of having no fans in attendance at games. The idea of the season coming back is more likely if the NBA brings all the players, staff, and coaches to Las Vegas to play in monitored arenas and hotels. But it is still unknown when the NBA could return.
The NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, has been very opinionated about how he wants his players and teams to follow strict rules during the pandemic. He has come out and said that he doesn’t want games to be played against out of country teams because he doesn’t want players to leave the U.S. unless they have to. But the NHL plans to continue their season by having a 24 team playoff. This system will be used in a way where the top 12 teams from the eastern and western league will face off in a big playoff format. But before this will happen, teams will have three weeks of training camp so that they can make sure that players are healthy and will not be at risk for injury.
The NFL is a little bit different about how they plan to tackle the pandemic. First, the NFL had their player draft set up differently. Instead of having a big party in Las Vegas, the draft was filmed in some players’ homes where they had a camera in their house to show their reaction to the league. The NFL commissioner also opened up rookie training camps with limited players and staff for each team. But there are also lots of concerns about the ability to start the season on time due to the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19. There is still a lot of uncertainty if it will even get sports back this year and possibility even next year.