While the covid pandemic shut down most of American society for virtually all of 2020, US professional baseball, basketball, football and soccer managed to compete in a reduced format. Their seasons were played or are playing now (as far as soccer is concerned) in the middle of a pandemic that has ravaged the entire world and until now killed about 290,000 Americans. After being postponed for a few months, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) successfully concluded their 2019-2020/2020 seasons by playing in well-controlled bubbles in Florida. The Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Seattle Storm (WNBA) emerged from their league's and respective bubbles as league champions.
Normally, the Major League Baseball (MLB) season consists of 162 regular season games from April to September. Still, this year, players on MLB teams like the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants played just 60 games and had to follow strict covid safety protocols after an initial suspension when COVID-19 hit America toward the end of MLB spring training. Players preparing for the upcoming season had to return home until July when league officials and players finally decided to start a shortened schedule without the all-star break and extended playoffs. Star players such as Buster Posey and David Price chose not to play, possibly a wise decision considering several teams had to halt play for a period after experiencing a spread of the coronavirus. After the Dodgers took home the World Series after this strange season, the MLB franchise is now in offseason mode. In recent years, the top free agents in baseball have been given massive contracts by teams desperate for their help. For example, last year the New York Yankees gave top free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole over $300 million. Still, due to the compressed schedule and overall drastic financial losses many teams are facing, 2020 free agency is moving very slowly. Many teams are using cost-cutting practices and as a result many of the best available players have yet to sign new contracts.
College and professional football teams are playing their seasons now. The NFL started its 2020 season on time and has marched ahead canceling very few games despite a seemingly endless number of teams being forced to close facilities temporarily due to players testing positive for covid. Recently, they moved the Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game to Wednesday, December 2nd instead of canceling it. This decision was made after a massive Covid outbreak in the Ravens organization that stopped the game from being played on Thanksgiving as scheduled.
In college football, each conference began play at a different time. The Southeastern conference (SEC) and Big 12 started at normal time in early September. While the Big 10 and Pac 12 conferences began play in late October/early November. As in professional football, there have been many cases of covid-19 in college football. But because college players are still amateurs and schools want to avoid the team's outbursts spreading on campus, college teams and schools have been more likely than the NFL to cancel games.
While I'm proud that sports have provided me with a source of entertainment during this challenging and horrific year, I can't help but wonder if they are contributing to this ongoing pandemic. I also think it's a little unfair that professional athletes, coaches and other officials are tested for covid on a daily basis when many ordinary people experience challenges getting a covid test. Also, I agree with Ann Killion of the SF Chronicle who wrote an article expresses the hypocrisy of the Golden State Warriors being allowed to hold full practice indoors while the rest of Californians must follow new restrictive stay-at-home orders enforced by CA Governor Gavin Newsom.
With a safe and helpful covid vaccine on the way soon, hopefully 2021 will be a better year and sport and society will be able to return to a semblance of how it was before the virus destroyed the world.
#Sports #covid #pandemic