The return of Professional Sports
By Matt Tierney
Redcoat Review Writer
Posted June 9, 2020
Flashback to the middle of March and the nation was prepping for an unknown enemy in the form of a highly contagious virus. Amidst this prep came what was described at the time as an “indefinite” suspension of the NBA, NHL, and MLB seasons. Other establishments such as the PGA Tour and Nascar all underwent the same hiatus.
Jump ahead to today, with the entire country beginning some form of reopening, leaving sports fans with budding optimism that their respective seasons will soon be back. Unfortunately it isn't as simple as snapping a finger and getting all the pros back out on the field.
Major League Baseball finds themselves at the forefront of controversy amongst owners and the Players Association to begin the season. MLB debated with different proposals to begin play since the suspension of Spring Training back in the middle of March. Initially, there were rumors of the season taking place in a confined Arizona bubble across minor league complexes, but that ultimately fell through due to a reluctance from the players to be away from home that long. The owners then came out with a highly controversial 50/50 revenue split between them and the players in addition to more salary cuts from the players.
This didn’t settle well as MLB stars such as Blake Snell and Bryce Harper clearly voiced their opinions to this proposal. MLB once again countered but instead of the revenue split, they proposed that they would take the highest pay cuts from those with the highest contract, and then lesser from those with a smaller one. Once again that proposal fell through and leads us to where we are now.
The players want to have their salaries prorated, which means to be paid for the amount of games they play. For example, they would not earn their full salary but rather would earn what their salary would be worth for the amount of games they play. So, they proposed this prorated salary plan while compromising with playing up to 114 games in their regular ballparks to make up for lost revenue of fans in the stands. The plan itself was declined but the rumor now is that the owners will eventually settle for some middle ground within the week, possibly just asking to play less games. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but out of all the major sports, this is the most uncertain.
The NBA has things running very smoothly right now, with a vote on a return to play expected to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors within the coming days. The plan includes bringing twenty-two teams down to Central Florida to finish off the season at Walt Disney World Wide World of Sports Complex. Disney has optimal court space for the NBA to use as well as a surplus of hotel rooms for however many teams and their families will be there. Disney also provides a “bubble” feel for the NBA, as they intend to test everyone that will enter this bubble and have strict protocol to prevent the spread of Covid 19. We don’t know specifics yet as for what the season format will look like or scheduling details when the NBA makes their expected arrival in the Disney bubble, but inside sources close to Commissioner Adam Silver have reported a tentative date of July 31st to resume play, obviously pending player, owner and government approval, all of which is expected to pass.
The NHL seems to have a clear cut plan in place as they were the first major league to come out with some heavy details on what to expect. Very similar to the NBA, the NHL is looking for a bubble atmosphere to safely finish off the season. It is believed that Edmonoton, Vancouver, and Las Vegas are three frontrunners amongst twelve contenders to serve as one of two bubble cities to play out the Stanley Cup playoffs. Differing from the NBA, the NHL seems to have a more crystal cut view of what the playoffs will look like. Per NHL.com, “The tournament will begin with a 16-team, eight-series Qualifying Round and a Seeding Round Robin among the top four teams in each conference to determine seeds for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.” That does seem a little fuzzy to interpret, but expect more clarity on that once a date and hub cities are announced for resumption of the season.
Finally, Nascar has resumed action with its racing series, obviously without fans and with proper safety measures. Additionally, the PGA Tour will be back in full swing on June 11th, starting with the annual Charles Schwab Challenge Tourney in Dallas. The PGA Tour will also be making a stop here in Connecticut at the yearly Travelers Championship in late June, just without the presence of fans. Despite that, it is encouraging to see that all of the major sporting leagues have some sort of idea in place to resume/begin their respective seasons in order to move towards some level of normalcy amidst an unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.
NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, Nascar
The West End. “Dodger Stadium”. 2009. https://www.flickr.com/photos/69754957@N00/3808064049
Gulitti, Tom. “NHL Plans to Return with 24 Teams Competing for Stanley Cup.” NHL.com, NHL.com, 26 May 2020, www.nhl.com/news/nhl-plans-to-return-with-24-team-stanley-cup-playoffs/c-317031010.