Bringing Back Sports in the COVID Era

Written By Kirra Latoza

Sports to many were an enjoyable form of escapism that always drew you in and rarely let you down, well that’s until COVID-19 happened. For the first time in the modern era, the conversation of sports is met with a dilemma. How are athletes able to play the game they love while ensuring the health and safety of others and staying healthy themselves?  When the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the postponement of its season on March 11, 2020 others followed suit, including professional soccer and hockey the next day. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled their men’s basketball championship and Major League Baseball (MLB) called quits and postponed any season training Pittsburgh Pirate fans looked forward to hearing about on 93.7 The Fan.

At that moment, the thought of a sport-less year came into fruition. My mind was engulfed with fear when I found out sporting events would not be brought back until a vaccine was created. A life without sports is easy to think about if you don’t follow them, but as someone who dreams of working in the sports field some day, it was a big deal for me. As I scrolled through Twitter and Facebook during the first month of the virus, I saw all the athletes and their parents voicing their opinion about the closing of schools, and I felt their sorrow. Many high school and college seniors were promised with a spring season, but their hopes were quickly crushed by the reality of living in a pandemic.

It has only been a few months since the reopening of sports, with baseball, hockey, and basketball playing a limited schedule at few locations. The formation of the bubble in the NBA was a smart move after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert became the first player found to have the coronavirus. The bubble can also be found in the NHL with the Stanley Cup Playoffs being played in two Canadien hub cities: Edmonton and Toronto. But, the MLB is a different story. Rob Manfred, the current Commissioner of Major League Baseball. has caused the league to become the laughing stock among all other professional sports. Would the season really have been canceled because of money? Manfred’s actions towards the coronavirus led to a delay of spring training, a shortened season (the shortest season since 1878) and an abundance of positive cases.

European soccer teams in Germany, England, Italy and Spain, who were hit the hardest at the beginning of the pandemic, returned to play and finish their season after a brief interruption. The common theme in the return-to-play protocols, regardless of the sport, is social distancing. The number of individuals playing at one time, the use of masks, and limiting the time athletes spend in confined spaces play huge roles in the success of multiple sports leagues. 

Without structure, there will not be an end. This goes for all levels of athletics, including the collegiate, where freshmen students dream about their freedom and parties. The process of bringing back sports was done better than anyone could have imagined. Social distancing and creating a bubble have been efficient ways to limit the number of individuals testing positive. However, it is difficult to tell whether these cases were faulty or real. 

Where do we go from here? At the end of the day, we all need to do our part of keeping each other and our loved ones safe. If we social distance ourselves and wear masks, all the activities and sports that we are currently missing out on will be back soon. We got this.