Sports leagues, including the NBA, MLB, MLS and even the NFL and college football, are all looking for ways to prepare to start or restart their seasons, their preparations for seasons, once the effects of the coronavirus are safely minimized. Should some of those alterations be permanent?
It makes you wonder, once the nasty beast is beaten, or at least contained.
That last part will happen, right? It will. It will. Say it with me, it will.
And sports will find ways to work again from there.
They will. All together now, they will. They will.
The Jazz will play again. Utah and BYU and Utah State football will practice and play again. The games will go on.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discussed various options recently, including everything from playing games in empty practice facilities to putting together pickup games made up of an assortment of available players to holding tight until the summer months, picking up where regular play so abruptly ended off in early March.
Cancellation? Shush your mouth. It’s a word nobody wants to utter, not out loud.
Silver talked about the significance of sports — tiny, of course, next to the physical wellbeing, the safety and health of the country’s and the world’s population — but substantial in giving that population a sense of normalcy and mental and spiritual and emotional engagement. Just like when MLB consulted President Roosevelt about whether its games should go on during World War II, and he said yes, because the country needed an invigorating diversion, the sporting public is needy now.
It needs other things much more — leadership, reassurance, ample tests, medication, vaccinations, regular paychecks, hope — but actually rooting for something, some team, some players on a floor or field of competition would be a sweet change from rooting against a virus, a pandemic, a sagging economy.
One path Silver discussed is unique, at least part of it. He mentioned playing games in empty arenas with television cameras delivering the action to eager fans — a course a lot of people have considered. But he also mentioned piping in the cheers, and maybe the boos, the noise, from folks watching at home.
Now that’s an idea.
Think about it for a second. How would that go for you if the way you acted, the responses you typically have during a game while watching it on TV, were sounded back at the teams and players in the arena for which you root? The cheers, the applause, the excitement, the shouts, the grunts, the burps and giggles and farts, the voiced disappointments and displeasure, right from the sofa in your TV den or cave.
If the technology were there, and, who knows, maybe it is, what a concept.
You get the action, they get the reaction.
All while social distancing is kept firmly in place.
Other leagues are considering shortening their seasons, or adjusting them, shifting them back. That’s a whole other line of thinking, from the temporary to the permanent. What if pro basketball were moved from its traditional spot on the calendar, from October to April, and to June counting the playoffs? What if the NBA season started in January, after the holidays and most of football was over, and went through, say, August?
All the anticipation and excitement would be preserved, with less competition from other dominant leagues. The summer is wide open. Wouldn’t the NBA for a portion of its season rather go up against baseball than football?
As is, Major League Baseball, some people in it, so eager to preserve as many games as possible, is/are considering stacking its season, whenever it commences, with doubleheaders. That idea was shot down by the players union during the labor strife-shortened 1994-95 season, citing the risk of injury, but these are different, more desperate times. Blame for current circumstances cannot be traced to the greed of ownership/management or vice versa. Maybe the tone would be more conciliatory.
Everyone is hoping football season — college and pro — will go on as planned, but former BYU and now Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall was quoted this week as saying he is making preparations for getting by with no spring practice and perhaps no fall camp, either, if football is played, at all.
Will football seasons be abbreviated, too? In 2020, it could happen.
Coaches in every sport are looking for ways to train and coordinate players and teams in and on a completely different time frame and timeline. The traditional notion that a college football team needs nearly a month of spring practices, then summer workouts, then camp from the end of July to the end of August, before the season even starts, is currently under review.
Not because anybody wants change, rather because, in this case, they must change.
Measured against what’s going on around the globe and here at home, in terms of importance, sports does pale in comparative shades and colors. Hopefully, the world will be put back on its axis soon, its universal vibrancy restored, this virus better understood and thoroughly defeated.
Whenever the time is right, whatever form they take, however adjusted or abbreviated, sports, with all of their games, sure will be fine to see live again. Whether we watch from our sofas or from section 10, aisle 34, row 20, seat 12.
They will. They will. Say it with me now. They will.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.