Commentary: Reporting on every single possibility for sports’ resumption won’t bring them back any quicker
Sports will be back eventually.
But nobody knows when, how or even where games will be played.
One minute, Major League Baseball is seemingly planning on playing its entire season in the Phoenix area. A few days later, MLB is kicking the tires on playing in both Arizona and Florida. The next week, MLB walked all of that back. Now, reports have the season starting around the Fourth of July under circumstances that — well, let Ken Rosenthal explain it.
“The league could open in 10 to 12 states, or in as many as 20 home parks, sources say,” Rosenthal reported Tuesday in The Athletic. “Or it could start in Florida, Texas and Arizona, then take a break after say, five weeks, to reassess the viability of moving to other locations. Even states hit hardest by the virus — New York, Michigan, California — might welcome the return of baseball in empty parks, citing it as an example of life returning to normal.”
Well, that settles it then. Baseball has a path for its return.
Except for the part where the plan fluctuates from as few as three states to as many as 12, and presumably as few as five major-league stadiums being available to as many as 20. Maybe the number of stadiums is higher if spring training sites in Arizona and Florida are used. Maybe it’s lower if, for example, Marlins Park is deemed unusable because it’s in Miami-Dade County, which leads Florida and has almost 12 times the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases than Tropicana Field’s Pinellas County.
The point is, Rosenthal’s report doesn’t answer any questions, mainly because nobody has those answers. Similar reports about the NHL attempting to resume its season have varied. The league went from discussions about hosting games wherever it could, with the University of North Dakota being a frontrunner, to essentially resigning itself to only playing in its home arenas — but even then, no specifics have been decided.
Even the medical experts leagues have been listening to clearly don’t have all the answers.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading health expert on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, told The New York Times that it might be difficult for some sports to resume this year, which is a pretty drastic change from what he told Snapchat two weeks ago regarding the possibility of playing the college football season without fans.
There’s a lot of conflicting information being reported, and although it’s not inaccurate if leagues are actually considering these plans, it can do more harm than good.
Reading a report that MLB is eyeing an Opening Day around the Fourth of July or that the NHL is looking for four arenas to finish its season is obviously something that encourages sports fans — and the public as a whole — into thinking life will soon be back to normal, even if fans wouldn’t be allowed into stadiums and arenas right away.
But reading a report the next day with Fauci saying, “If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season,’” slaps you right back into a sobering reality — and, of course, makes some people wonder which report they should truly put weight into.
Games will resume eventually — but we truly don’t know the timeline yet.
In the meantime, there’s no need to play them in the media regarding where, when and how.