Play Ball! …Maybe

Play Ball! …Maybe

Claire Bahorski 

July 15, 2020

Sports are a beloved form of entertainment for fans everywhere. Tailgating, purchasing season tickets and tuning into games every week are all popular pastimes for sports fanatics everywhere. However, like nearly everything else, sports’ seasons were put on hold as the coronavirus ravaged through the world and forced mandatory lockdowns. Colleges and professional organizations alike are struggling to finalize plans for upcoming seasons. Because of the uncertainty that a worldwide pandemic brings, when live sports will return to normal activity remains an unanswered question. 

Baseball is one of America’s favorite sports. With coronavirus cases increasing all over the country, many assumed that baseball season would be further delayed or cancelled in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Surprisingly, this is not the case. In an official press release on June 23, Major League Baseball announced plans for the season to commence. They propose having a 60 game season beginning on either July 23 or July 24. Players returned to training on July 1, with protocols such as COVID-19 and antibody testing in place. Players, coaches and other staff members will be tested every other day. Any athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 must enter into a mandatory 14 day quarantine, and will require two negative tests before returning and coming into contact with others. Currently, there are to be no fans allowed at games. However, this rule may change later in the season and a limited number of fans could be permitted into the stadium. These measures, along with other enforced rules, are meant to protect the players, coaches and staff from contracting the coronavirus. Hopefully, if the season does begin on schedule, the precautions that the MLB is taking will effectively keep participants safe. 

Another upcoming season is football. Fans of both college and professional football are anxiously anticipating any updates regarding how the season will be played. So far, ESPN has reported that the National Football League has limited its preseason to just two games. Players will still report to training camp on July 28, though there will be limits on how many athletes can attend. Currently, the preseason games are scheduled to be played August 20-24 and August 27-31. CBS Sports reports that the NFL may have fans sign waivers that essentially state they are not liable for any cases of coronavirus contracted by attendants. They have also stated that individual teams will be able to decide the capacity of spectators allowed in their stadiums. This flexibility could create issues, as some stadiums may allow too many fans in and increase unnecessary contact between patrons which may further spread the coronavirus. Hopefully, the teams will keep the health and safety of everyone in the stadium as their top priority as they make these decisions. 

A big question on college campuses now is whether regular sports seasons will take place in the fall. Now that Michigan State University has announced plans for students to return to East Lansing, many are left wondering how normal activities will take place. As of now, MSU is working with a COVID-19 Reopening Campus Task Force to ensure students, faculty and staff are able to return to the university safely. Athletes from football, basketball and volleyball teams started to return to MSU on June 15 for optional summer workouts and have been tested to evaluate the teams’ overall health. It was last reported that there were five athletes total who tested positive for the coronavirus. These students were quarantined and isolated from others and require additional testing and a follow-up evaluation before being allowed to resume attending workouts. 

One of the most anticipated sports seasons at MSU is football. Although there are no definite plans yet, the university’s athletic director, Bill Beekman, updated Spartan football fans on June 24 with some of the possible guidelines that could be implemented. The proposed protocol includes limited capacity, a reserved by section plan and premium seating. There also may be restrictions on tailgates, with limited parking passes administered as a possible option. The sale of student tickets has been put on hold for the time being, and MSU has no official deadline as to when final plans for the 2020 football season will be announced. 

Although attending sporting events can be exciting for many fans, it is important to take into account the safety of athletes, coaches and spectators when deciding how to plan for a season. Many sports organizations risk losing large amounts of revenue by having crowdless games. Despite taking precautions and limiting the capacity of stadiums, the threat of coronavirus is still imminent and should be taken seriously. The health and well-being of all involved should be prioritized by associations like the MLB and NFL as they finalize plans for moving forward. In a perfect world, all involved will follow precautions and remain safe and healthy for many seasons to come. 

Claire Bahorski (@clairebahorski) is a junior at Michigan State University studying Human Capital and Society and Humanities Pre-Law, with concentrations in Public and Professional Writing and History. In her free time, she loves spending time with her friends and family and watching movies. She hopes to always continue writing, along with her aspirations of becoming an attorney.