We are all living in a time of great uncertainty. We don’t know how long the Coronavirus will continue to ravage countries. We don’t know how long we will remain locked down in our homes. And we don’t know how our lives may differ after the pandemic is over. It is for times such as these that sports are a safe haven; away from the 24 hour coverage of everything that is going on around the world, sports allow the viewer to simply live in the moment, to root for your home town team, or your favorite athlete. Here is a look at what some of the major sports leagues are looking into for potential returns.
NBA: With no word yet from any NBA League officials on a potential return, the revival of the season is anyone’s best guess.
NFL: For the time being the NFL is still slated to kick-off on schedule with the first game taking place on September 10th. As for the NFL Draft, the original plan to host it in Las Vegas has since been scrapped, and each team’s selection will take place in an online virtual draft with the commissioner of the NFL (Rodger Goodell) and a representative from all 32 teams announcing the picks.
UFC: The UFC has come the closest to providing us with a much needed escape, as they planned to host UFC 249 at a Casino just outside of Fresno, California on Saturday, April 18th. The card headliner; Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson was going to be for the Interim Lightweight Championship. The fight was scheduled to have no fans in attendance, with medical screenings, and limited staff on hand in addition to complying with social distancing rules (except for the fighters). However, executives at ESPN (the network that would stream/provide the fights) called for the cancellation of the card as they feared the risk of any death on their hands. Despite the cancellation of UFC 249, UFC boss Dana White has since proposed the same card to take place on May 9th at a location to be determined. Ha has also expressed interest in the potential for a “Fight Island”; an undisclosed island where UFC bouts would take place. Nevertheless, with UFC 249 being cancelled for the time being, it appears unclear when the UFC will return.
MLB: Major League Baseball’s Opening Day of March 26th came and went and no baseball has been played. With almost no spring training, it almost seems as if the baseball season is far away. However, reports have emerged of plans to start the 2020 season in Arizona with no fans present. Under the plan, players, and coaches would regularly be tested and stay in hotels for the duration of the season. Another proposed idea would divide the teams into a Grapefruit and Cactus League with teams spring training facilities based in Florida playing their games in Florida, and teams based in Arizona playing their games exclusively there. No dates have been offered yet.
At the end of the day we need sports. We need it as an escape, as a distraction and as a unifier. Nevertheless, the world of professional sports is still a business, and without an end in the foreseeable future to the Coronavirus Pandemic sports leagues, and networks alike will be faced with some tough decisions in the months ahead.