American sports to begin steps towards return

No professional sporting events played since Mar. 12

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Noah Silver

April was the first month without any of the four major American sports since 1883. Each league hopes to return to conducting business as usual in May.

Noah Silver, Sports Writer

The cancellation of sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic has made its impact on many more than just the average American.

“We have to get our sports back,” U.S. President Donald Trump said. “I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.”

Trump is one of many Americans who miss sports; however, there are numerous steps that need to be taken before they can return to their pre-pandemic form

A lot more goes into sporting events than just the game itself. This includes fans traveling to and from stadiums, tailgating in the parking lots, and congregating at bars before and after the events. 

“If we move too quick, we put 50,000 people in Yankee stadium, and that’s part of why you see a resurgence of the disease, that would be the worst of all worlds,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. 

De Blasio believes that the city can’t have baseball games or events with large crowds until all individual cases of coronavirus can be tracked, with anyone exposed to it being isolated and quarantined from contact with others. 

Once the sports world does return to normal, athletes will not just be meeting a few times per week for games. They would presumably have to practice and partake in other team activities, which is why it is essential to make sure there is no risk of infection for any athletes.

“There’s nothing to say that players won’t get infected at home and bring it to the field,” Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, chair of the public health committee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America said. 

In response to Vaishampayan, the MLB is proposing an idea that would move all of the teams to Arizona, where there are 10 ballparks. If this idea went through, the MLB would play a season in a tightly controlled area. However, experts still find this option unlikely, as there are many other factors to consider, such as feeding everyone involved in the program, the handling of injured players, and housing for the athletes’ families. 

With this many people involved, it seems unlikely that this would be a safe, virus-free environment.

“You can’t think of [the environment] as airtight,” Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor who is an expert in preventive medicine and infectious diseases, said. “Because it won’t be.”

The NBA is considering numerous options that would move the league closer to resuming play, one of which consists of holding the playoffs in a quarantined space in Las Vegas. 

However, while the NBA is open to any ideas, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that nothing is imminent at the moment. In order for the league to return to action, the safety of all players and personnel must become a guarantee.

“In terms of bubble-like concepts, many of them have been proposed to us, and we’ve only listened,” Silver said. “We’re not seriously engaged yet in that type of environment. We know we need large-scale testing. When you’re dealing with human life, that trumps anything else we could possibly be talking about.”

The league is also preparing a 25-day plan to get players back into game-ready condition.

“Individual workouts would last 11 days under the NBA’s potential plan, and teams would then come together for a 14-day training camp,” sports writer Brian Windhorst said. 

The plan would anticipate resuming play at the end of the 25-day window, but Los Angeles Laker Jared Dudley has speculated that players may need more time than that to prepare for the rigor and intensity of an NBA schedule.

While the NFL regular season does not begin until September, the league is still preparing for a scenario in which it will have to alter its usual way of carrying out affairs, including the prospect of playing in empty stadiums.

“I don’t know if it’ll be a one-third-filled stadium, a half-filled stadium or whatever,” a person familiar with the league’s plans told the Washington Post. “The NFL is planning for everything from playing without fans to playing in full stadiums. There will be a push from the [federal] government to open things up.”

In addition, the MLS anticipates that games will not start again until Jun. 8 at the earliest. 

The MLS remains focused on exploring formats for playing the entire 2020 season, including pushing back the MLS Cup into December or later. 

The league formally conceded that the odds of playing a full 34-game regular season are decreasing.

“While we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so,” a statement by the MLS said.

According to The New York Times, even if sports return in some capacity in the near term, there will not be a true return to “normal” until there is a vaccine available to everyone in the country, which could take until 2021, or beyond, to happen.