We’ve reached double digits in weeks since sports were a regular program in our lives. That’s bizarre.
If you’d have told me on March 11 -- the day things really hit the fan in the U.S. -- that I’d be writing in late May about how we haven’t had sports in months, I’d have crumbled to my knees and let the tears flow. Yet here we are: surviving.
Sure, there’s been Korean baseball and a few UFC fights -- one of which was won by Clarksville’s own Nate Landwehr! -- but there’s no replacing what we’re TRULY missing out on.
It’s Tuesday as I write this and, had things gone as planned this year, tonight would be the rolling of the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery. It was the one thing I was truly looking forward to this year for my Detroit Pistons (other than Derrick Rose being awesome, of course).
However, there is a glimmer of hope.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer all came out during the past week to say that they’re ready to move forward with getting professional sports back.
While they won’t have fans -- at least not at full capacity, anyways -- sports are sports. I’ve long since accepted that we likely won’t be having full stadiums for a while, at least not until a widespread vaccine is developed or we simply come to a herd immunization. Both figure to take a while -- at least one season of each sport, I’d think.
That practically eliminates concerts, too, which is truly saddening to me. I haven’t been to a live show since March… 2019! I was even planning on buying a weekend pass to Lollapalooza this year since I’d have the money. My favorite band, Foo Fighters, were even rumored to be headlining the event. An absolute shame, if I say so myself.
But now’s not the time to complain! For the first time in months, we have real evidence that sports could be returning soon.
Here’s what I’m expecting:
Baseball likely starts with no crowds. I like their 10-team division proposal with a universal DH (finally!) with games only against teams within one’s division. That keeps the level of competition high but manages contact and travel to keep players, personnel and ballpark staff safe. Assuming the states allow it -- which many have already committed to -- this plan should work well.
Basketball and hockey are in similar boats. I’d personally like to see the seasons pick up from where they were. NHL teams each have roughly 10 or so games whereas the NBA is at about 20. That said, this hope doesn’t seem practical at all due to travel and the fact that these athletes have been out of actions for two-and-a-half months and counting. Perhaps each team can play maybe five buffer games against teams in their division or within relatively proximity to get them back into the flow of things, but this causes problems too.
For example, in basketball, the Milwaukee Bucks play in a supremely easy division; outside the playoff-bound Pacers, they’d get bouts with the crummy Bulls, Cavs and Pistons. Elsewhere, the playoff-hopeful Pelicans and Spurs would be forced to go up against not only each other but also face the Grizzlies, Rockets and Mavericks.
So yeah, that plan has problems. These seasons are going to play out one way or another -- it’s just a matter of seeing how.
College sports will be incredibly interesting. I expect the NFL to kickoff on time… but even then, things will likely change.
Until then, continue to stay vigilant in the fight against the virus. Even as places like gyms and restaurants reopen in town, remain careful. The larger the crowd and the more people are touching the same things, the more likely the virus is to spread… but you already knew that.
Montgomery County has done a pretty good job so far, or so the numbers currently say it has. We’ve made it this far. Let’s keep it that way.