The sports recovery has begun, even if it is going to be a slow road to a complete return. Most sports fans had resigned themselves to the fact that nothing was going to happen in May, and they were right. However, from one coast to the other, at least two states are calling upon the NBA, MLB, NFL and the rest of the sports to return to action in June, even if it means playing in front of empty stadiums as the coronavirus still maintains its grip on the country.
It’s one step at a time, but every step forward is a step in the right direction.
The Empire (State) Strikes Back
The Empire State has become one of the first to request that sports teams start getting ready for June activity. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his daily press briefing today that he has reached out to the sports organizations, asking them to begin preparations for a June return, acknowledging that allowing fans to attend games is still not ready for inclusion. He adds that the state will do whatever it can to assist, hoping to entice the leagues into donning their uniforms and becoming a major part of the recovery process.
Cuomo explained that he realizes the leagues would only be able to get back in the game if they see the possibility to generate adequate revenue, but hopes that they’ll take the initiative, even if the money won’t be the same.
He asserted, “New York state will help those major sport franchises to do just that. Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen we’re a ready, willing and able partner. While the stadiums aren’t allowed to have fans, he said the games could still be televised. I think this is in the best interest of all the people and in the best interest of the state of New York. And then they’ll be up and running and when we can fill a stadium again, we can fill a stadium.”
Golden State May Have Golden Ticket
All the way across the country, California is ready to jump aboard, as well. Governor Gavin Newsom said today that he would like to see a June return for sports, adding that, like New York’s stance, fans would not be allowed – the state isn’t that far along yet. However, Gavin demonstrated that the state has seen a substantial decline in COVID-19 cases and explained that, following the trend, reintroducing sports next month is a very real and feasible possibility. He added in a tweet that, over the past 14 days, the state has seen a decline in hospitalizations of 7.5% and a decline in the number of ICU patients of 8.7%.
This doesn’t mean that the state is ready to pull the trigger today, but that, within the next couple of weeks, things should have calmed down enough to allow for more freedoms. Across California, around 24 counties (out of the total of 58) have already been shown to be clear enough to move toward a more rapid recovery. Newsom adds, “Bottom line is: People can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions.”
What Major Sports Leagues Are Saying About Return
The sports leagues would like nothing more than to be able to return to the game. Some have asserted that the world has overreacted to the health threat caused by COVID-19, but these individuals simply don’t understand the gravity of the situation or don’t care. There’s no way any major sports organization would intentionally call its season to a halt unless it weren’t absolutely, unequivocally necessary – not just because a few media outlets seemed to hype up the situation.
There’s a lot at stake by continuing the shutdown and there are a lot of issues that have to be worked out. MLB is already trying to work with the players’ union to figure out the best way to proceed and find a mutually-beneficial solution. The working model has been a return to spring training in June, with a launch of the season in July. It isn’t clear if the position of the governors of New York and California will help influence the roadmap.
The NBA is likely to consider the states’ offers seriously, but there isn’t any resolution about how the season, which was called off shortly before the postseason, could play out. There has been talk (more of a rumor) of a possible cancelation of the remainder of the season, and every option is still on the table.
The NFL has never been willing to admit defeat, nor has it needed to. The league was essentially the only one not majorly impacted by the coronavirus, and it has continued to push forward with its regular schedule for the season. The preseason schedule was released last week and, if New York and California are ready to accept sports teams by next month, other states should be ready by July or August.
The end of the road is finally beginning to take shape. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but, in general, we’ve made it through the roughest patches. Having gone two months without sports hasn’t been easy, but hanging in there for just a couple more weeks for the return should be.