The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed states across the nation to enact stay-at-home orders to quell the spread of the virus. And though some of them have lifted restrictions, it’s mostly for people who need to go to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still discourages mass gatherings.
As such, budding athletes like you don’t get to go to the gym or stadium to practice your craft, let alone participate in tournaments. You’re left with no choice but to practice your pitches with your baseball radar gun alone.
Pro Sports Continue Amid Lockdowns
Some professional sports leagues like the NBA and MLB are continuing their seasons, however, after suffering from multiple postponements because of the COVID-19 threat. Some teams had major outbreaks, according to a report by The New York Times. The Cardinals notably had 10 players and seven staff members testing positive for the virus. The Marlins had 18 players who showed positive test results as well. These surge in COVID-19 cases within the league have both fans and officials worried that some teams might not be able to complete their seasons.
Some members of the Cardinals are asymptomatic, while others were hospitalized for fevers, headaches, and coughs, the report added. The virus’s symptoms and complications can range from simple fevers to full-on respiratory and brain damage.
Although vaccines are being developed at record speeds, it would take months or even years before they’re deemed safe for public consumption. Some experts even theorize that the virus will eventually weaken and become a seasonal one like the flu or common cold. Plus, the United States continues to lead the world when it comes to active cases.
Whether we like it or not, we’re going to deal with this pandemic for a very long time. If the show must go on for sports leagues like the MLB, what would the stadiums look like during this new normal?
A Different Kind of Live Audience
One of the most exciting things about sports is being able to see the games live. Nothing compares to the rush of taking time off work, buying tickets, and heading to the stadium to see your favorite team play right before your eyes. Because social distancing absolutely needs to be practiced, you won’t be able to do this for a long while.
The only choice that you have is streaming live games over the internet and sports TV channels. And though a lot of you’ve probably been doing this for a while, the games may look empty because there’s literally no crowd in the stands. The NBA has been doing this for some time now. For some stadiums, the crowd is replaced by awkward-looking cardboard standees and pre-recorded audience noises.
Others took an innovative approach. The Staples Center showed its fans connected through video chat on virtual seats. These changes may look awkward, but they’re honest efforts of the leagues to make the viewing experience more immersive for audiences.
Roster Changes Because of COVID-19
Because some people who get COVID-19 are asymptomatic, which means they don’t exhibit any symptoms of infection, it’s hard to track and quarantine them. Players interact with many people every day: their teammates, opponents, staff, and family members. As such, players may need to get tested regularly if they want to participate in games.
When they test positive, they’ll need to sit out for quarantine and treatment. People need to get two negative results after quarantine and treatment, too, before they’re officially considered COVID-free. This problem will lead to roster changes that may greatly affect the outcome of your favorite team’s games, especially if your star players catch the virus.
Strict Social Distancing
Leagues like the NBA have a sanitation procedure that players go through before entering a stadium. Others, like the MLB, also have a testing system in place for players and staff, which the league commissioner reviews every week. If they do permit crowds in arenas again, you may have to go through a long line just to get sanitized and tested before you can enter the stands. Still, your best bet to stay healthy while enjoying the game is just to stay home and stream it.
The recent pandemic left a lot of sports leagues in a bind. For one, they want to help their fans get through these trying times by providing exciting and fresh plays. However, it’s also their responsibility to keep their players and staff safe from the virus. Stadiums need to create compromises like procuring and using sanitation and testing equipment, creating and executing social distancing protocols for staff and players, and completely forgoing a live audience. These are necessary compromises to ensure quality entertainment that the fans deserve.
Make Your Practice Count During the Pandemic
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