That light sports fans are seeing at the end of the tunnel isn’t just a mirage. Sports leagues across the globe are anxious to get back into the game as quickly as possible and put the whole COVID-19 debacle behind them, and it looks like the Bundesliga and MLS might be the first to begin to play.
It’s been about two months since the NBA, NHL and everyone else (the NFL was only slightly impacted) have been able to hold contests, but that light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to grow larger and brighter.
MLS Carrying The Torch To Play
As leagues figure out their new game plans, soccer seems to be ready to get going. Germany’s Bundesliga has announced that it will begin to play games before the end of the month, after allowing players to begin practicing about three weeks ago, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed the rumor. In the US, MLS is running right alongside, announcing that several teams are going to start putting players back on the training fields as of today.
The situation in the US will be a little different than what has been seen in Germany. Players are going to be allowed to hold voluntary individual workouts on the field, as long as they adhere to established health and safety guidelines that have been presented in response to the global pandemic. The teams will also have to provide MLS with a written plan that details how they will implement those protocols to play.
Only after the plans are reviewed and approved by medical staff, as well as local infectious disease experts, can they be presented to the organization for final approval.
Some Restrictions Apply
As much as everyone would like to be able to just run out on the field and start kicking the ball around. However, in addition to the health guidelines MLS has established, teams are also going to have to comply with local rules and regulations pertaining to free mobility. In other words, if local governments have restrictive policies in place that prevent freedom of movement, then teams will have to follow those guidelines, as well.
The MLS statement explains, “Major League Soccer today announced that as of Wednesday, May 6, players may begin to use outdoor team training fields for individual workouts, in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts. All individual workouts are voluntary and may not be in conflict with local public health official or government policies.”
MLS Teams Waste No Time Announcing Their Return
One of the first states to lift its lockdown order was Georgia, so it’s only fitting that the MLS team from the state would be the first to play. Atlanta United FC is already finding its players suiting up, and shared a video on Twitter first thing this morning with how the practices are being conducted. Inter Miami CF, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City SC have also joined the ranks, and the five teams are presenting the first US soccer players to hold formal practices since the league suspended its season on March 12.
There are some limitations in place to help further control the health situation. According to the MLS, “The individual player workout protocol prohibits access to club facilities including but not limited to locker rooms, team gyms, and team training rooms. Team gyms and training rooms may still only be accessed by players receiving post-operative and rehabilitation treatment, as directed by the club’s Chief Medical Officer.”\
Still, professional athletes live for their sport, so anything that allows them to get back into the action, even if it’s not under ideal circumstances, is better than nothing. It’s also better for sports fans, as it is a clear indication that things are slowly, but surely, returning to normal. There is no definite timeline for games to return to any pro sports league, but progress continues to be made. Almost two months have gone by since the lights went dark on sports, but the light is shining again, and gaining in intensity.