Cautious optimism for the return of sports

Posted: Jul. 2, 2020 12:01 am

It almost feels like Christmas in July.

After months without team sports in this country, it seems there's more than a glimmer of hope that sports will come back to us in the coming days.

MLB players reported on Wednesday, the National Women's Soccer League has put out a great product in its first few games back, the NBA and NHL will resume later this month in what could be incredibly entertaining and memorable postseasons.

Locally, teams and coaches are seeing restrictions on their time together loosened, though to what degree still remains a case-by-case scenario.

There's just so much hope that seems to be swirling the sports world right now. Yet amidst all that hope, there still lurks the whole reason sports went away to begin with.

There's still the elephant in the room. And its name is COVID-19.

The pandemic that swiftly shut down sports in the middle of March has yet to go away. In fact, the virus is wreaking more havoc now than it was then.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited for the return of sports. Far from it. The important thing right now is to be realistic.

We've already seen the sports world infiltrated by COVID-19 in the last few weeks. Every day there is a new player who has tested positive, and for now that's not threatening the return.

Eventually, though, it could. There is a point that each league could hit where it will have to shut down once again. Whether we reach that threshold and what that threshold is remains to be seen.

When, or if, sports are shut down again will vary by the sport and the level. Money is a huge factor in that decision, particularly at the higher levels.

On the local level, there's obviously not as much money tied into games as the NBA or MLB and their broadcasting deals, but money does play a part.

The most important factor should always be the health and safety of players and coaches. As long as cases remain low, or ideally no cases are found, then sports can resume without fear.

If we want sports to return to the region we can actually affect that by doing our part.

You've heard it a thousand times at least, but people a lot smarter than me have found that social distancing and mask use does help curb the spread of the virus. I typically listen to people smarter than me when it comes to medical advice. And to me, that seems a small price to pay to secure a return to the field,

Seeing players and coaches gather again in the places they love, from the highest levels of competition all the way to high schools gathering for summer workouts, fills me with joy. I'm optimistic that measures put in place will allow sports to bring happiness into our lives again soon, but COVID-19 doesn't care about my optimism.

And that's what worries me.