A packed Yankee Stadium is a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.
Dr. Fauci: Coronavirus Might Cause Pro Sports Leagues to Skip Season
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine, sports lovers have struggled with what to do with their time during the evening hours and on the weekend.
March Madness canceled.
The Masters canceled.
Purchasing tickets for games became out of the question.
But maybe, just maybe, pro sports could resume with no fans in the audience.
Now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, is admitting something that sports fans do not want to hear.
Sports enthusiasts might have to wait until 2021 to see their favorite pro athletes in action.
Fauci said, “Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’”
Even when fans are allowed to come back into stadiums and arenas, wearing masks and gloves might become a requirement.
“I’m not saying this is the way to go, but you want to at least consider having players, if they’re going to play, play in front of a TV camera without people in the audience,” Fauci said. “And then test all the players and make sure they’re negative and keep them in a place where they don’t have contact with anybody on the outside who you don’t know whether they’re positive or negative.”
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) are now on an indefinite hiatus.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was scheduled to begin its 2020 season on May 15.
All of the aforementioned leagues are currently looking into ways to play out the season and postseason.
The National Football League (NFL) held its 2020 college draft virtually, which was originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.
The NFL and college football are discussing their plans for the upcoming season, which could include eliminating bye weeks.
Fauci went on to say, “I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.”
Not surprisingly, Fauci’s sports forecast was met with some shock from people around the athletic world.
New York Yankees president Randy Levine is more optimistic and believes that everyone with a stake in Major League Baseball should sacrifice to make the 2020 season a reality.
“I really believe everybody should work together to do this,” said Levine. “I was kind of surprised this morning when I saw one story about Dr. Fauci where he said that now he doesn’t—he thinks some sports might not play till next year, but last week on the YES network, he said that—quite the opposite.
“(Fauci) said that he, like (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo), would like to see games with fans in the seats—I’m sorry with no fans in the seats—if there is mitigation, possibly, depending on conditions on the ground, fans in the seats. So I mean it’s confusing, and that’s why all of us with good intentions have to come together, need to come together and put a plan together that works.”
However, Fauci said that the coronavirus would dictate whether or not competition occurs in the world of sports.
“It’s going to be the virus that determines what the timetable is because if we get the virus under really good control, it is conceivable that you may be able to have some baseball with people practicing physically separation,” said Fauci. “Namely, you don’t pack a stadium.”
Some proposals for a 2020 Major League Baseball season include having all games played in Arizona with no fans in the stands.
Instead of players hanging out in the dugout or the bullpen, players would socially distance themselves from teammates and opponents by sitting spread out in the stands.
Another proposal would have teams playing all of their games at their spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona.
A third proposal includes separating the teams into three 10-team divisions, (Western, Central and Eastern), with teams playing in designated stadiums.
The three-division Major League Baseball proposal would satisfy local television stations, which brings in a large amount of money for professional baseball teams.
The problem with playing all games in Arizona is the fact that some players might be separated from their families for an entire season, unless family members are allowed to accompany players.
Playing at spring training facilities might be more attractive to players and their families because many Major League baseball players have homes in the city in which their teams hold spring training.
The NBA has floated the idea of having all games played in Las Vegas or Orlando, Fla., with a possible play-in tournament for the final playoff spots in both the Eastern and Western Conference.
Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. have multiple gyms and plenty of hotel rooms to accommodate the players until the end of a possible 2020 NBA Finals.
The NHL has also floated the idea of having playoff games played at a centralized location.
For now sports fanatics have had to settle for classic games from college and the pros and the wildly popular ESPN 10-part docuseries on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, which featured Michael J0rdan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Coach Phil Jackson in their final season with the Bulls.