Nick McAdam, Sports Editor
President Donald Trump recently held a conference call with the five major North American sports leagues, (NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS), to discuss the possibility of sports returning.
Trump wants the NFL season to start on time and sports, in general, to pick up the action in August or September. If this is the case, that would include the last portion of the MLB and MLS seasons and the preparation of the NBA and NHL seasons either in training camp or the preseason.
“I want fans back in the arenas,” the President told reporters. “The fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports.”
The news from the conference call came three days after the start of the extended government restrictions of social contact until the end of April.
Just days after the call, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) hosted its annual Wrestlemania event prerecorded and in front of no fans. According to various publications within the last week, UFC president Dana White hopes to secure a private island to host an upcoming pay-per-view set of fights.
Though Trump remained optimistic in interviews, he didn’t provide an exact date when sporting events would come back. While the President wants sports in the summer, events in Great Britain such as Wimbledon and the start of the Premier League have already been canceled or delayed, both of which would have started by the President’s target months.
“Right now it’s hard to say if winter and spring sports can be brought back by summer,” senior Adam Ziobrowski said. “MLB has tossed around the idea of playing every game in Arizona or Japan or just treating the season as spring training with the cactus and grapefruit leagues. I’m not sure how that would work, but those seem to be the only ways a season could happen. The NFL has a better chance, however missing camps and workouts will hurt.”
But the likelihood of sports returning, at least for the moment, is pending from a series of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘we’ll have to wait and sees.’ In his daily press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that as much as he’d love to see sports return soon, it will still be determined by the recommendations of health-care professionals.
The only thing certain at the moment is that both the NBA and the NHL haven’t officially canceled their seasons yet, as they are the only leagues to hold off. This means that standings, scores, and current statistics will remain, but the longevity of the cancelations will affect the leagues’ final decisions.
“I think the NHL and NBA are still holding on to hope and not jumping the gun on their decision, hence why they have postponed the season,” Ziobrowski said. “They’re weighing out all possible options of a return before making a rash decision.”
Ziobrowski told The Tangerine that there is no right or wrong answer to all of this. Whatever happens, “the show must go on,” he said.
“As long as no one affiliated to teams is tested positive, why not perform with no fans?” Ziobrowski said. “But then looking at the performance side, athletes put themselves in the mindset to play in front of 50 or 60 thousand people. To have them play with no fans puts them in a rough spot and totally takes away from the point of sports from a fan perspective. Although, watching a game from home is better than no game at all.”
No follow-up meetings or conferences have been scheduled at this point. At the moment, the cancelations and delays still remain the same, although the President took to Twitter right after the conference to ensure that Little League Baseball will be playing soon.