Walter Ford: When sports return they will look a lot different
“The Last Dance” documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ incredible run through the 1990s was nothing short of captivating.
It gave viewers an inside and entertaining look at one of the greatest sports dynasties ever, and at the same time offered a two-hour weekly respite from the woes of a world lacking sports and coping with the devastating effects of COVID-19.
Now that it’s over, and the world is starting to slowly reopen, I’m ready for live sports to return. When will that be, what will it look like and how it can be done in a safe manner is yet to be determined.
Bear River Athletic Director Scott Savoie and Nevada Union Athletic Director Daniel Crossen are cautiously optimistic that prep sports will go on next fall after talking with California Interscholastic Federation officials earlier this week.
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“I feel better about it this week than I have the past two weeks,” said Savoie, noting the CIF told him and other ADs that it is committed to having all three sports seasons for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
There is still a lot to be worked out before any high school sports activities are permitted, though, including navigating state, county and individual school district mandates, developing regulations for decreasing potential exposure, and scheduling, just to name a few. The CIF is holding off on any final decisions on a return date for now.
“My hope is there will be three seasons, but there will be changes, big changes,” said Savoie.
At the professional level we see all the biggies scrambling to come up with ways to either finish their season or start it.
The NBA was about 75% of the way through its regular season when a couple of positive COVID-19 tests by players put a halt to it. It’s been reported that franchises are expecting to receive guidelines from the league office around June 1, detailing how they can start to call back players and finish the season. Then there will be questions about testing, season and playoff structure, who will be allowed at venues and where games will be played. There has been talk of a two-site format for the return of the season, including Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Las Vegas.
My best guess is we won’t see NBA action again until mid-July at the earliest.
The NHL is in a similar situation, in that they were nearly finished with the regular season when play was stopped. The league is reportedly looking into options to restart the season or possibly go straight into the playoffs in July.
Major League Baseball, which called off play just two weeks before Opening Day, is dealing with a host of issues, and is trying to reach an agreement with players on how and when they will return and with what type of compensation.
The big issues for the major sports leagues will be how they can limit exposure (travel, media, fans, etc.), testing for players and personnel, how they handle positive tests and how much players will be paid.
Sports like NASCAR and UFC have already made their return, and others are set to do so as well. IndyCar is planning its return to the track for June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway. The PGA is set to tee it up once again June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Each sport faces a lot of the same issues in returning, but will also have several individual issues as well.
Other questions remain. What if a player tests positive for COVID-19? If one player on a team tests positive, is the whole team then quarantined? Are those games then forfeited? Will having no fans in the stands have an adverse affect on the players? What about travel for sports like golf that boast a robust field of players from all over the world?
The takeaway right now is that major sports leagues are working hard to come back, and will at some point be back. But in what form, that is still to be determined.
OPTIMIST ALL STARS
A big congratulations to several local athletes who landed on the Optimist All Star softball and baseball teams.
In baseball, Bear River’s Colton Jenkins, Caleb Hurst and Cole Winters, and Forest Lake Christian’s Dominic Cuniberti earned spots on the Small Schools North team. Nevada Union pitcher and outfielder Mathew Tintle was named to the Large Schools North team.
In softball, Nevada Union’s Reese Wheeler and Michelle Gonzales both landed on the Large Schools North team, and Bear River’s Justice Lewis earned a spot on the Small Schools North Team.
The All-Star Games have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
END IT WITH A QUOTE
Here’s one from Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4232.
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