Slowly Rolling Out The Carpet For The Return Of Sports

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Imagine a world without calendars. Without clearly-defined seasons and other cyclical signposts. How would you know that seasons were changing? You would have to rely on anecdotal observations like flowers blooming or leaves changing color.

Such is the world of sports that we find ourselves in. The regular rhythms of the sports calendar no longer apply.

Is it still spring? Not without baseball, basketball and hockey. IIs summer coming? Not without more baseball, golf, soccer and the beginning of football.

We are in some new, unnamed era. We haven’t yet developed the language to define this new world.

But we can make observations about the world around us.

And that world tells us that sports are slowly coming back. Not in the ways we were used to. Not at the times that we were used to. But they are returning, not unlike daffodils suddenly popping up in December.

The first sport out of the starting gate was NASCAR. It’s a relatively safe bet. Don’t allow fans to tailgate in the parking lot and watch the races from the stands. Drivers in cockpits maintaining social distance from one another. Crew and managers in masks in the pit. With twenty races scheduled between now and late June, there is plenty for fans to appreciate—at least from afar.

There are other sports making maneuvers to return to play. Major League Soccer is allowing players to return to individual workouts—at team practice facilities—as of this week. This allows players to at least begin practicing to return to regular play.

On June 20th, expect the return of major horse racing. For the first time ever, the Belmont Stakes will be run prior to the Kentucky Derby, which has been rescheduled for the fall.

The NFL allowed some teams to return to practice facilities for limited training, though many teams are still under stay-at-home orders in their respective states. What is going to happen this fall with professional football is still unclear.

As for the NBA, they are also still determining if, when and how they may resume play. As Sports Illustrated and other outlets are reporting, one scenario would see all the teams playing at Disney World, without fans. The logic, presumably, is that they will be in a kind of group-quarantine with one another in a secluded location, far from the general public.

Major League Baseball is in a similar situation. There are discussions going on right now between the league and the players. Some envision a truncated season starting in July with pared-down rosters.

Many sports have announced starting dates in the future, with major events having been rescheduled due to the coronavirus. As of now, the PGA tour will resume in mid-June, with The Masters rescheduled for November.

Another major American sport, college football, is still completely up in the air. Teams, coaches, universities and conferences are hotly debating how and if they might be able have college football in the fall. Is not allowing fans going to be enough? Can they have football players return to campus even if the general student population does not? These are questions that remain to be answered.

So, for now, talking about all of these things is challenging even for fans. It’s as if we don’t have the language yet to describe the situation we are in. 

Let’s hope that we don’t have to live this way long enough to develop a new language.

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About Author

Paul Redman

Paul Redman is a writer and chef in Seattle who grew up in the Midwest. His work has appeared in print and online, including San Francisco magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Contrary. He eats too many chicken wings and cracks way too many dad jokes and food puns. Follow him on Twitter @predman.

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