In this time of hardships, America needs sports.
Sports have a special place in our society. They offer us compelling drama, role models, novelty, and bring a community together. These last few months of lockdown are a reminder not to take any of that for granted.
It has been months since the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons. Major League Baseball is on hold pending negotiations. The Olympics are delayed a year. Fans have been recycling old glories, but it’s just not the same. Fresh competition gives us something to look forward to, and it helps us create togetherness when we’re forced to be apart.
Of course, there are sizable implementation challenges these leagues must sort through. They’ll need to figure out how to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and support staff. Will there be fans in the stands? If so, how do we protect them too? Shorter seasons, changes of venue (perhaps doing away with the usual travel schedule in favor of a “bubble league”), and maybe even rule changes are all on the table.
Each league, and organization, will need to figure out their own specific vulnerabilities, risk tolerance, and safety precautions. Some athletes must be eager to return to work, while others may be more cautious. We cannot minimize the difference in life situations between a multimillionaire superstar, a journeyman, a college amateur, and a coach or staff member.
I don’t have the answers, but I am optimistic that we can make this work. Germany has already resumed their professional soccer league and other countries across hard-hit Europe are preparing to bring back pro sports too. Same goes for many countries in Asia.
Sports are part of the fabric of our society. Bringing sports back will be a big milestone for us. And I’m really looking forward to their return.