As a nation, the United States has experienced multiple recessions, the Great Depression, wars, terrorism, civil unrest, and natural disasters of all kinds. Yet during these tough times, we’ve been able to at least find some sort of solace through sports.
In a way, sports have been viewed as a welcome distraction in turbulent times, offering us a chance, even if only for a few hours, to put our worries away and experience some sort of normalcy in our lives.
Unfortunately, due to the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it currently feels like there is no normalcy. The nature of the virus has forced us to take a few steps back each from each other, and for many of us, the world may feel much less warm and much more lonely than usual.
But thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We may not be exactly sure of when we’ll get there, but we can see it, which does bring a sense of hope.
I don’t have the answer of when life will completely return to normal, but I do think we’ll see sports return sooner rather than later, even if we can’t watch them in-person.
While time will ultimately tell whether or not the NBA and NHL finish their 2019-20 seasons or if Major League Baseball will begin play this summer, other sports leagues have already returned to or about to return to action, providing us with an opportunity to at least watch something during the upcoming summer months.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship became the first sanctioning body to return with UFC 249 taking place in Jacksonville, Florida last Sunday. NASCAR will also resume in Darlington, South Carolina this Sunday, and IndyCar will be the second major motorsport to return on June 6 in Fort Worth, Texas. Ironically enough, the PGA Tour will also resume their schedule this June in Fort Worth, with their first tournament in several months set to begin on the 11th.
All of these leagues will compete behind closed doors for the time being, but they will still provide us with something to watch on our screens for the next several months, and perhaps even an opportunity to take interest in a new sport as well.
But for the fan who yearns to watch something a little more familiar, there will still be baseball this summer. While MLB has yet to announce an exact date for opening day, the game is currently being played in other parts of the world.
The KBO League, South Korea’s highest level of competition, began play on May 5. While their games take place late at night here in the states, ESPN has since acquired the rights to broadcast KBO games here and has done so on a nightly basis.
For some, the KBO’s games may seem to be played in a far-off land and feature unfamiliar names, but baseball is still a game that transcends language or cultural boundaries. Being able to still see live baseball on TV may very well mean that not all is wrong in the world.
Like other leagues, the KBO is being played in empty stadiums - something we should expect to see here in the U.S. when MLB begins or NBA and/or NHL resume this summer. The same will likely go for football, at least for the start of the season.
The NFL still intends to start their season on time, and many college programs, including Oregon State, still are planning on playing with or without fans. Where or how these games will be played remains to be seen, but all signs point to a resumption of team sports this fall.
So, while the coronavirus may have forced sports to start a little later than usual and will force us to watch from afar, they certainly will weather this storm as they have done many times prior.
And once sports do resume, we’ll once again be provided with a much-needed feeling of normalcy again.