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COVID-19: Return to Play and the Effect on Sports

COVID-19: Return to Play and the Effect on Sports July 7, 20202 Comments
Written by: Dan Lovero
2020 will go down as the year the world stopped. We all knew Covid-19 was bad, but the reality of the situation didn’t sink in for many of us until professional sports started shutting down.  As the coronavirus spread, tournaments were first postponed and then cancelled, and when the NBA and NHL were supposed to be winding up their seasons and the MLB should have been starting another summer season, stadiums stood empty.  And now, some hundred days later, professional sports are looking more and more like they are going to return.  As much as I missed playoff season and as much as summer just isn’t summer without baseball we can’t just jump into sports thinking life is going to return to normal in a linear fashion.  With a rising number of cases in the United States and sports looking to return to play, here is a look at what is happening.

In order to try and stay on track for the regular season, the NFL has shortened the 2020 preseason to just two games. They are currently working on a virtual basis for their offseason programs.

The NBA is looking to return to play at the end of July. Teams have been gathering to begin workouts as they prepare to finish the season that was put on hold. Questions have begun to surface as some players have tested positive for the Coronavirus and some have decided to opt-out of play.

The MLB announced at the end of June that there will be a 2020 season and although nothing is set in stone it will likely be a 60 game season beginning at the end of July. 

The NHL has selected two Canadian cities to host teams, as reported by ESPN. The current plan has the NHL resuming its season in Toronto and Edmonton later this summer. However, we have seen a number of players, like Austin Matthews, test positive for the Coronavirus.

The Bundesliga was the first of Europe’s major soccer leagues to resume playing on May 16. La Liga returned a month later on June 11, the Premier League on June 17 and Serie A on June 20. The MLS is prepping for a return on July 8.

So What Does it All Mean?
As professional sports continue to navigate a return to play, it has begun raising questions. With a rise in cases in a number of places, we need to ensure the safety of all the athletes. If a rise in cases continues, it is very likely that another shut down could occur and that could mean sports shutting down. It is highly probable we will see a return to play that is a modified version of what we are used to. Looking at what professional sports have done and learning can give us a glimpse into what is working. 

A Return to Play will benefit many of us and provide a sense of ‘normal’ in our lives. It will help kids get back out and active and it will help boost the economy by supporting those that have built their livelihoods around the world of sport, this organization included. However, we cannot rush into a Return to Play, without the proper planning and resources. Without rigorous testing and contact tracing, we could open up our children and ourselves to considerably more risk. Nevertheless, we should continue to hope and plan that this too will pass, and the sun will again shine down on cracking bats, breaking huddles, and team-wide celebrations. Sports will be back!

For more information on this topic, please download our

Return to Play Research paper .


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