The sports calendar is a moving target these days. From little league to the Olympics, every sports league, game or tournament is canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment, fall sports leagues are not saying much about their schedules, but spring seasons are pretty much gone, and summer games at a professional or collegiate level look tenuous.
The New York Times has recently published a rundown of all the changes. Notable events in the distance include:
- The Olympics are pushed back to July 23 of 2021.
- The pro golf tour tees off June 11, 2020, with the British Open canceled and the other majors taking place from August onward.
- The NFL is scheduled to begin September 10 — there is no change in the date.
When will the rest of it happen?
There are still so many variables regarding the treatment of the virus that it is hard to even pick a date or format for returning to competition. There are several hurdles to be navigated before there is any action and then more putting fans back in the stadiums.
Important first steps
Hopefully, athletes will be able to safely compete this year in closed environments, which give fans access through television and other media. For that to happen:
- There needs to be access to regular testing for all players and personnel.
- The leagues and owners then need to convince players and their families it is a safe work environment.
The next steps
It is increasingly apparent that the fallout from this pandemic will last for years — some analysts are saying that a return to live sporting events attended by fans could come as late as 2021. But playing in front of fans brings another sticky wicket:
- When will officials say it is safe for fans to assemble in a full stadium?
- Even if fans are allowed in the stadium, it will likely keep people at a distance from each other and the athletes. Will this work?
- The final hurdle may be if or when the fans feel safe returning to the stadiums –72% of fans polled said they would not attend a game in person until there is a coronavirus vaccine. Moreover, massive live sporting events may no longer be a relaxing way to spend a few hours even when there is the “all clear.”
No one knows
No one knows when this pandemic will come to an end, or when it will again be safe to compete in or attend sporting events. Each sport is different, with some certain to be able to safely return sooner than others. So, suffice to say, the comeback will be in various forms with many stages along the way.