The coronavirus continues to thrash around, targeting people seemingly at random and not willing to bring to an end its reign of terror. As devastating as the virus has been, there’s at least one certainty – it’s going to eventually run its course and life will be able to start to return to normal. The great unknown is how soon that will happen, but there are some reasons to be optimistic. Patience is now a necessity, and, eventually, fans will be able to catch all the NFL, MLB and NBA action that they’ve been missing.
NFL Remains Steadfast For Draft
Roger Goodell has already confirmed that the NFL draft will continue as scheduled. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the league will continue as scheduled, but it’s a sign that there is hope. The league commissioner is confident that things will clear up before the end of the summer, allowing football fans to enjoy their favorite sport.
College football analyst Kirk Herbstreit isn’t as optimistic. He said last week that he doesn’t expect there to be a 2020 football season on either the pro or the university level. However, his outlook isn’t shared by everyone, and the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, has a different take on what will most likely happen with NFL football this fall. According to Blank, the season will take place, possibly getting underway on September 10 as planned, but with several changes.
‘We Need Football Now’
There could be shorter training camps, daily testing of players and, possibly, a 16-game season. However, the most radical change could be that all games, at least for a while, could be played absent any crowded stadiums. Blank thinks the league could keep a ban on fan attendance in place, which wouldn’t be a novel solution. Soccer leagues across Europe were already playing games in front of empty stadiums before COVID-19 really dug in, and the NBA is considering a similar solution.
Blank adds, “I do think we need football now. It’s hard to turn on any device you have today, almost any site, television, PCs, laptops, phones — without the first thing popping up being something on the virus. People want to be optimistic. People want to think about things that are really good times for themselves and their families and their loved ones and their communities. I think to have that kind of hope and aspiration mixed into your daily life is important.”
Cubs Employees Test Positive
Hopefully, NFL – as well as college – football will be able to continue as expected. MLB is seeing a different story, though. It only took one player being confirmed positive for the NBA to decide to cancel the league, and MLB has seen several cases. Two employees working a Chicago Cubs training session on March 8 have been diagnosed as infected with the coronavirus. The session took place at Wrigley Field, and, now, others who were there that day might need to be tested, as well.
There isn’t a direct connection between the training day and the employees’ diagnosis – the coronavirus could have attacked them later. However, the club is being extra cautious and Cubs VP of Communication and Community Affairs Julian Green states, “There was nothing definitive to suggest training may have contributed to exposure, as we were nearly 20 days removed from the training when we were notified. But out of an abundance of caution, transparency and responsibility, it was the right thing to do to inform our staff and because we’re all family.”
Baseball Returning To Asia?
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the MLB season is officially dead – it just means that there is reason to be extremely aware of one’s activities and movements. The coronavirus began its scourge in China before moving out to other parts of Asia first, and there are signs that baseball in some countries in the region is ready to get going. This could be a good sign that the virus has been defeated to a point that it isn’t necessarily seen as an acute threat, and that life is going to return to normal.
In South Korea, for example, the Korea Baseball Organization is eyeing a season launch of April 20. Initially scheduled to start on March 28, players are now gearing up in uniform, but with an additional piece of attire – a white surgical mask. No practice games will be held until after April 6, at the earliest, but they can now play intra-team games, which are being aired live.
As in South Korea, Japan also delayed the start of its baseball season as a result of COVID-19. It pushed the launch back to April 24, and officials with Nippon Professional Baseball, the country’s leading baseball league, doesn’t foresee any more delays. Teams are already suited up and taking swings, and the fact that three players on one team were just diagnosed with the coronavirus is not going to impact the start of the season.
Put the different pieces together, and a picture begins to emerge. Despite the chaos the coronavirus has caused, it is possible to continue to have some similarities to a normal life, even if at a slightly reduced level. It may not be ideal, but it’s better than nothing and, as history has shown time and again, recovery is just around the corner and sports will be back in action around the world before too much longer.