Will Major League Sports Ever Be The Same Again?

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Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times

Devon Garutti

The world has been forever changed by COVID-19, and people around the globe continue to seek for normalcy. For avid sports enthusiasts, the excitement may have been building over the past few weeks as professional sports have started again. There have been several different approaches taken by popular sports leagues, such as the important decision of having fans present in stadiums. 

Once the Major League Baseball season began after a long, unexpected break, there were many safety precautions taken within the stadiums. Rather than having fans in the stadium,  cardboard cutouts were put in the bleachers. The MLB season was also shortened, with teams playing 60 games rather than the usual 162 games. The season also started relatively late this year on July 24th, rather than the usual start time of mid-March.  According to USA News Today, since the start of the MLB season, there have been 104 confirmed COVID-19 cases spread across 26 of the 30 teams that play in the league.  Additionally, the LA Times stated that players received COVID-19 tests every other day, and if they were to test positive, they would have to test negative two consecutive times in a row in order to play again.  There were also many new rules put into place this season in order to prevent contact between players, such as no high fiving, fist-bumping, nor hugging. Players are also prohibited from passing each other their hats or gloves before going into the outfield, and lockers have to be at least six feet apart from each other.  The MLB continues to add more precautions as the season proceeds, and wants nothing but a safe environment for players.

The NFL has opened up their season as well, however, their  safety precautions look a bit different from other leagues. For example, in certain stadiums (based on the state’s rules), fans are allowed to be in the stands to cheer on their favorite team.  According to Sporting News,  the NFL still plans to proceed with its full, 256-game regular season as originally scheduled, unlike other leagues. Yet, since the start of the season, multiple games have been postponed and a handful of players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.  

The NBA had already started the 2019-2020 season when the outbreak of COVID-19 occurred.  In fact, multiple players in the NBA tested positive for COVID-19 during the initial outbreak.  Since the season was already underway, the rest of the season was postponed, and started back up again on July 30th. The NBA had a different approach to protecting players from the virus: the bubble method.  This includes a mandatory 36-48 hour quarantine when players arrive in Disney,  daily COVID tests, and basic rules such as only 17 players allowed on a team, and can travel with up to 37 people.  Masks are required on campus unless players are playing, eating, or they are alone, and social distancing is strongly encouraged at all times.  The NBA regular and postseason have since ended, with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the playoffs.

Although the world is in a very unfortunate situation due to the pandemic, it’s comforting to know that sports have not completely over for the year, and that the major leagues are taking the necessary precautions.