Auto Racing and golf were the first professional sports to come back after the pandemic. Fans can at least watch from home now. U.S. soccer is off and running in Orlando. The Portland Timbers won last night against the LA Galaxy. Soon, the Trailblazers will take the court in the Disney bubble, similar to the soccer model. There’s proven success to this “play-and stay-in-one-place” structure with the completion of The Basketball Tournament tonight in Columbus, Ohio. I was not aware that the non-overtime format was designed by Ball State, Indiana professor, Nick Elam. It assigns a target score in the final quarter that determines the winner rather than wear down players with extra time on the clock. Also, on the Hoosier stage, former IU players, Mo Creek and Remy Abell played starring roles.
I like the controlled environments that have been established for the restart of soccer and basketball. It limits exposure to the bug via outside exposure and travel. I’m not sure that baseball will see similar success by utilizing home fields and regional travel schedules. However, life can’t continue to be contained in a bubble. We need to experiment with other formats, otherwise football will never get underway. There will actually be some fans in the stands around Wrigley Field, as across-the-street rooftop seats are apparently being sold for $350.
Football does have the advantage of protective gear like plastic face guards and gloves to limit exposure on the field. If this is effective, expect other sports to adapt at least long pants and sleeves in the future. There will be many new innovations. Travel to and from the parks will still be an issue, although professional teams have private planes and limos. This is not the case for high school and college players. To be determined!
Every sport is now a safety experiment. Fans will have to wait until the results are compiled. Getting near the players and field are not in the near future. They will retreat to the locker rooms before and after games. Athletes will be kept isolated and this will affect their popularity. Autographs will be hard to get and personal appearances will be prohibited. A 2020 player autograph will be extremely rare and valuable. For example, I just received a Topps Now baseball card signed by Kris Bryant of the Cubs. This will become a prized item in my collection.
The original plan was to get to Spring Training and the Cubs vs. Sox game. It was a Friday the 13th in Phoenix when this game was cancelled, as the dreaded bug made its debut. I did get a credit for the tickets, but it has turned out to be a four-month holding pattern. The Chicago crosstown rivalry is scheduled to restart this Sunday in a Summer Camp exhibition game at Wrigley. The condensed 60-game season officially begins next Thursday with the Nats vs. Yankees on ESPN. The NBA restarts the week after. It means more sports on TV – LIVE!