The weirdest sports season of our lifetimes has begun. I’m just not sure how long it’s going to last.
Opening Day for Major League Baseball is normally the end of March or beginning of April. But this year, Opening Day was last Thursday night, and the big leagues are aiming for a 60-game season, down from the normal 162.
The WNBA started Saturday. The NBA is supposed to start this Thursday. The NHL has exhibition games scheduled for Tuesday night. College football is slated for the end of August and the NFL for mid-September – although those dates seem like years away instead of weeks.
Some sports have already started. We’ve been able to watch live NASCAR races and golf tournaments for a few weeks now. Bubba Wallace has become NASCAR’s biggest hero and its biggest villain. And the new hot golfer is a guy named Bryson DeChambeau, who spent the whole offseason lifting weights and now looks like John Cena in a polo shirt.
But those, to me, are the appetizers. Baseball and basketball and football are the main course. And I’m going to gorge on them while I can, because I think their expiration date is coming pretty fast.
All the major sports leagues are spending millions on testing players for the virus. The NBA has even put all its players in a bubble of sorts at Disney World. But I don’t know how you keep the walls up for months. What happens if half the Los Angeles Lakers come down with the virus? Do they just forfeit their games? How about all the teams that played them when they might’ve been infected? This is exactly why the league shut down in the first place back in March.
Baseball has a better chance because the players are naturally a little more distant. But baseball teams will have to travel, and there’s no way to keep a bubble around them all the time. Football has it worst of all: Teams will have to travel, and the games are all about blocking and tackling and sweat and saliva.
My guess is that one or all of these sports might play for a few weeks, and then there will be an outbreak, and then they’ll have to shut down again.
I don’t want that to happen. Sports is one of the best diversions there is. It’s important precisely because the games don’t matter: It’s a place where we can safely offload the pain and joy and suffering and ecstasy that sometimes we have to mute in the rest of our lives.
Sports is an old friend, and God, do I miss my old friends. But I want the same thing for all my old friends right now: I want them to be safe. And I’ll be hoping these next few weeks that sports can find a way.
Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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