Last week MLB announced the return of baseball with a July 23 date (Opening Day), along with a 60-game season. All 30 teams are scheduled to return to training this month just weeks before the start of the 2020 season. The proposed season identifies the need to reduce travel for teams by having them participate in games against opponents within the same geographical locations.
Although MLB has indicated their desire to have fans return in attendance, it’s unclear at this point how they expect that to happen.
The U.S. was thought to have flattened the curve in May, but a recent increase in testing around the U.S. has shown a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. This new data is surely to make an impact on how MLB strategizes the return of fans to ballparks around the country.
Many of the states that seem to be having issues controlling the spread of COVID-19 are largely populated, although largely populated states don’t always carry the burden of increased cases. States like Utah, and Arizona have seen spikes in cases after relaxing their stay-at-home policies while Texas, Florida and California have scrapped re-opening businesses due to record new cases.
Fans are eager to attend sporting events in an effort to normalize an increasingly abnormal year, but are attending such events during an increasing pandemic ethically responsible and should these types of decision be left up to the fans or the organizations opening up sports again?
It’s unlikely that organizations like MLB, the NBA and the NFL would leave these types of decisions up to fans unless disclosures are put in place and while disclosures would certainly benefit them (the organizations) by shifting the responsibility to fans, it’s an unlikely scenario. MLB, the NBA and the NFL will likely take a more proactive approach to reopening with minimal amount of fans, or no fans at all.
We all love attending games, but are we willing to take the risk of being exposed and or exposing fellow fans to a virus that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon?
This week players have spoken up about the risks and have gone as far as stating they will be sitting out the 2020 seasons in favor of reducing the risk of exposure. Colorado Rockie Ian Desmond opted out of the 2020 season after penning an essay regarding COVID-19 and racial disparities felt around the country.