It’s natural to hold out hope that sports will return at some point in the relatively near future.
But the more information we get on the coronavirus and how it’s impacting people and cities across the world — and more importantly, how it’s trending toward larger and larger impacts — that hope seems to be fading more and more.
For example, Toronto just banned all public events through June 30. The end of June is three months away. That’s the type of impact we’re talking about. And who knows what the world will look like in three weeks, much less three months?
Sports have to take a backseat, not matter how much we might want sports to drive the conversation. Let’s look at this latest news — Toronto is one of the first, if not the first, major city to ban public events for that long of a time frame — from a practical standpoint.
Both the NBA and NHL have pressed pause on their seasons. Normally, they’d be wrapping up their playoffs and crowning a champion in early June. Even if the NBA decided to start playing games before the end of June, the reigning champion Raptors couldn’t play home games in their title defense — they’re currently second in the Eastern Conference — until July, and that’s if the NBA just went straight to the playoffs.
This would seemingly impact a return to normalcy for the NBA, MLB and NHL.
NBA has talked about a single-site return to play, which would cover the Raptors. But no games in Toronto until long after the NBA season would have ended. https://t.co/vIrtS0TfuP
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) March 31, 2020
In the NHL, the Maple Leafs are currently in playoff position, too, though it’s not nearly as solid as the Raptors; they’re third in the Atlantic Division. Same thing, though. No home games (unless the interpretation would allow for games played in empty stadiums) until at least the beginning of July.
And baseball? That’s interesting. The MLBPA and MLB powers that be are deep in negotiations about how the 2020 season might play out. Contingency plans are being made, and thinking is outside the box. Games in front of no fans could happen. Games played in a handful of cities, to reduce travel, could happen. But the problem is, they’re trying to hit a moving target. There are no solid answers. If they knew when they could start, a plan could be made.
I bounce between optimism that there will be baseball again this year and pessimism. News like this is a strong reminder that if it does return, it probably is not returning in 30 MLB cities simultaneously. Going to be a lot of moving parts under the best of circumstances. https://t.co/3zgH2NUJmM
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 31, 2020
Early June seemed optimistic, and maybe possible. But with this news — more importantly, how an actual city government views the crisis — that seems like it’s out the window. We just don’t know much right now.
What we do know, though, is this: There will not be any games played in front of fans in Toronto until at least July. That’s a sobering thought, and a reminder to stay inside and keep your distance if you have to go out.