With almost all sports worldwide shut down until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic, sports fans are concerned about when their favorite teams will again be on the field (or ice, or court, as the case may be). Unfortunately for fans, the answer to that question is up in the air and relies on a host of factors that can't easily be predicted at this point.
However, most major professional leagues in the U.S. and around the world have begun putting together plans for bringing their sports back.
Here are the plans Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Soccer (MLS) are likely considering to bring their games back. Note that this list involves only these five major sports and does not include professional sports such as golf or bowling. College and amateur sports, as well as leagues outside the United States, are also excluded.
Major League Baseball May Play All Of Its Games In A Handful Of Arizona Minor League Parks
As Forbes reports, Major League Baseball, which would otherwise be in its fourth week by now, is reportedly considering a plan that would have all of the games of the 2020 season in a handful of Phoenix-area minor league parks.
Specifically, the players' union and the league are in talks to have all games played without spectators in and around Maricopa County, Arizona, where half the league's spring training facilities are located.
That would effectively put all the MLB season into one locality, preventing the players from moving around the country and limiting their exposure to others.
"I think players are willing to do what's necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country," said agent Scott Boras.
The NFL Hopes To Resume As Normal In September, Without Fans
Unlike Major League Baseball and other major professional sports leagues which would ordinarily have players on the field at this time, the NFL has the luxury of having a few months to figure things out since this is the sport's offseason.
As CBS Sports reports, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank believes that the NFL season will resume as scheduled this fall but possibly without fans in the seats.
"I think there will be football. Whether or not all the games will be played with fans in the stands, I'm not sure," he said, noting that he's not a doctor nor scientist, but at the same time recognizing that other sports are looking at the likelihood that games will be played without fans.
The National Hockey League Is Considering Holding Playoffs At Neutral Sites
As Sports Illustrated reports, the National Hockey League was in the latter stages of its season when it was derailed by the coronavirus. Now the players' union and the league are trying to figure out not how to complete the regular season but instead have the playoffs.
One option on the table is to hold the playoffs in neutral sites without spectators, possibly in minor league or college stadiums.
However, these discussions are in the early stages, and the union and league haven't even come to the table to discuss things.
The NBA Is Looking At All Options
Not unlike the NHL, the NBA would otherwise be looking at beginning its playoffs right about now. And as NBA.com reports, the league is looking not at trying to salvage what remains of the season but is instead looking at how to hold playoffs.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that, if given the green light to hold its postseason this spring or summer, the start of the regular NBA season would be delayed, which would have otherwise gotten underway in October.
However, the league is in a wait-and-see phase right now, holding off making any decisions unless and until health officials give the sports world some guidance.
"Everything is on the table," Silver said.
Major League Soccer Is Looking At Holding Its Whole Season, Without Spectators
As Major League Soccer reports on its website, the league is still looking at holding its entire season, which would otherwise be in its first couple of weeks right now. The league has "enough dates" to play out the entire regular season, which it intends to do, without fans in the seats, as soon as it's given the green light to do so. When that will happen remains unclear, however.
Dr. Anthony Fauci Is On Board With Bringing Sports Back, Under Tight Controls
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, is on board with bringing sports back — at some, unspecified date this summer — but under tight controls. Specifically, he says the games should be played without fans, and the athletes should be confined to their hotels, monitored, and frequently tested.
Fauci is a huge baseball fan and said he's eager to see his beloved Washington Nationals back on the field.