ESPN Wide World of Sports via espnwwos.com
June 30 – A long overdue post for a virus that has lived longer in 2020 than it should…
We study tragic times in history books and try to imagine ourselves in those situations. The plague, World War II, Hiroshima bombing, the list goes on. The constant anxiety and unknown of what will come next tears away at one’s mental health. Now here we are, 100+ days into a pandemic where over 125,000 Americans have died experiencing something drastically unheard of.
If someone had told me 2020 was going to start off with an Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl win of 29-28, followed by the closure of businesses, restaurants, and shops, I would laugh. And be slightly anxious. On top of it, all sports were canceled once cases were revealed. No more live sports.
The first publicly known athlete case was Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. He tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March, and the NBA stopped the season immediately. They requested all players in contact with Gobert within the past two weeks be tested.
*At this time, the nation was split between the idea that COVID was either deadly or just an “intense version of the flu.”
Gobert was on the joking side of things. After he tested positive a video was released of him touching all mics from the media and his teammates in the locker room which was not a good look for Gobert. He later donated money towards COVID relief and apologized for his careless actions.
Fast-forward to June and sadly, over 120,000 lives were lost to this pandemic. There was a point in mid-May where the country was doing well by flattening the curve, which enticed the government to open earlier than anticipated. Sadly, because of this excitement cases are rising at an alarming rate and today, July 1, 2020, 46,000 cases were identified (CNN.)
There were many, many discussions on how and when live sports will return. The NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, and NCAA seasons were all cut short in mid-March and began brainstorming ways to return once the nation slowly began to open back up. Their first choice was in Orlando, FL, at the ESPN World Wide Center of Sports. Since these leagues have chosen Florida, the case numbers have risen tremendously, which has worried sports lovers and athletes everywhere.
At this moment the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS are projected to return at the end of July in Orlando, FL. Each league has a different testing arrangement. For example, MLB is planning to test players every other day, along with the NBA. MLS is planning to test players twice a week. Luckily, commissioners have permitted players to opt-out of returning for this season if they feel uncomfortable. Shorter seasons have resulted in prorated salaries and pay-cuts.
As of July 2, 25/344 players in the NBA have tested positive, nine in MLS, and several staff or players amongst the MLB. Although each league has explained an increase in medical staff, testing, and other cautionary procedures, the rising number of cases is a huge concern. As the month pans out commissioners across the board will keep a close eye out on the number of positive cases. The plan is to move forward with various July start dates unless a large majority of players are positive. Restarting/ starting the remainder of the 2020 season has required a ton of commitment from each league’s staff and players; hopefully, all goes well and everyone can crown a champion in a safe manner.