As the return of pro sports in the United States draws closer, leagues are getting set to embark on seasons that they have never had to deal with before, there are specific needs that have needed to be addressed between players, owners, and fans in each respective league.
Return of USA Pro Sports Scheduled To Start With MLB
The MLB has had the most contentious path to resuming their season thus far. Luckily for baseball fans, the season looks like it will start around July 23-24. The highlight of Opening Day looks like it will be the defending champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees. A possible Gerrit Cole-Max Scherzer pitching duel on Opening Night should be something that MLB fans salivate over. In a 60-game season, there is a chance that Opening Night has a playoff feel to it already.
NBA Players’ Concerns Need To Be Addressed Despite Responsibility to Fans
For the NBA, the season is set to resume on July 30. The Opening Night to the season resumption will be highlighted by a Clippers-Lakers showdown. This game will set the tone for the race to the playoffs for the NBA. If the Clippers win, it will be game on for the number-one seed in the Western Conference. If the Lakers win, then they will be in the driver’s seat for the number-one seed.
However, some players on the 22 teams set to resume play at the end of July have backed out due to their own concerns regarding COVID-19 and social justice issues.
Fans that may be upset at players backing out have their right to be. However, a player should be taking their own well-being into account when deciding if they want to put themselves in a situation where they are putting themselves and others at risks. Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler cares about the well-being of his family and will be spending time with them instead of playing in Orlando. In a profession that requires so much time away from one’s family, it is understandable why Chandler is making this decision.
These situations are imperfect, but the leagues, players, and fans have to make the best of their unique individual situations.
Return of Pro Sports During a Pandemic Lose-Lose Situation on Surface, but Could Be Big Win For Society
For example, the criticism of the MLB and the players from the fans was definitely warranted. In a middle of a pandemic where the regular person is looking for any form of escapism that they can find, they will become disheartened quickly at negative developments as far as sports returning.
As far as the commissioners are concerned, they have been put in a lose-lose situation. The leagues are already going to lose money because of no fans being present at the games. Sure, it will be interesting to see how much television ratings increase. However, the actual plausibility of certain scenarios will not be known until they are put into practice.
The MLB is going to keep games in teams’ home cities. However, the NBA and NHL have a benefit of a shorter timeframe because they are resuming, not starting, their seasons. They will have one and two hub cities, respectively, where all the teams will be secluded to a “bubble”.
The NFL does not have the luxury of keeping its players in a bubble. There are simply too many players on the rosters. It will be interesting to see if the NFL eventually allows expanded rosters. The issue of pay may also come up during the season also. What will players do if there is a sudden reduction of salary? The one thing that the NFL differs greatly from the MLB is that they already agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the NFL and NFLPA would feud over money.
Sports Leagues Returning Across the World Should Be Encouraging For USA Pro Sports
COVID-19 cases are not rising in Europe like they are in the United States. Therefore, it is an encouraging sign for sports league everywhere that the top European soccer leagues have started to finish their 2019-20 seasons. The German Bundesliga was the first of the four main European soccer leagues that was able to finish their season. Some players on some of these teams, including Barcelona (La Liga), have taken pay cuts.
2020 has had its challenges on society, but having sports back will be a great benefit to the United States. It will both be able to bring important issues to light through sport and offer a source of escapism from the news for fans. Sports coming back will hopefully help the country stay connected through interacting with other fans on social media. Although fans may not be able to celebrate their favorite teams together, they will have the ability to cheer on their teams. It will mean a lot to everyone involved.