OPINION: Sports should become secondary as world heals

Photo via Ciro Fusco/European Pressphoto Agency

Photo via Ciro Fusco/European Pressphoto Agency

Marc Goldstein, Sports Editor

As the Coronavirus wages war on humanity, sports have come to an abrupt halt through the troubling times. The scenario that society is facing is a first for a multitude of reasons: the first global pandemic to affect so many people on so many levels since possibly the Black Death in the Middle Ages. Additionally, there has never been an event, or series of events, that has stopped all sports, major or minor, across the globe. From the MLB to the NBA all the way to bowling, the sports world has come to a stop. There have been work stoppages, strikes and even wars that stopped sports, but sports had never come to a full halt. That being said, sports should not rush to get back to the viewing public, much to the dismay of fans. 

While sports have helped heal the US and the world after traumatic events have occurred, this is a unique situation. While the global climate is ever changing and hard to predict, sports writers, analysts and even players have been awaiting the return of sports of any kind. Networks such as ESPN, FOX Sports and ABC have been forced to become creative in what is shown on their channels over the course of a 24 hour span. This seems like a worst case scenario for the sports world, and one that everyone would want fixed as soon as possible. Sports should try to resume as soon as possible right? Wrong. Sports should become secondary while the country, and planet heals from the pandemic that has raged in early 2020. 

Some experts predict that “normalcy” will return over the course of the summer, while others say not until the fall. What does this mean for sports? MLB will have to wait until June, at the earliest to restart their season, NBA and NHL will have to wait until roughly the same time to resume their season and start their playoffs, although the NBA has voiced a desire to be the first league to restart. While many sports fans have been counting down the days until sports restarts, even though there is no set date, those same people who have passionately cheered on their teams in the playoff push will have to wait longer to return to sports. The fact of the matter is that sports aren’t the same without the fans, which is the quickest way for sports to return: without fans or any kind of spectators besides the media. Players such as LeBron James have said that the games wouldn’t be the same without the fans cheering the players on. 

So why play games if they won’t feel the same? That is the big question being asked in the sports community right now. When it was announced that March Madness would be played without fans, there was outrage over the decision, although it would become a mute point in the course of a few hours. In all actuality, American sports should be held from competing for the time being for the simplest, most obvious reason: there is no need for them right now. With a global pandemic in full force, there is no need for athletes to put their health on the line for some television ratings and entertainment. The sports have been, and will continue to be, missed, but the outrage over them being gone is misplaced. The commissioners of these leagues had no choice but to pull their athletes from competition and to stop play because if they hadn’t, the optics of the decision would have been so much worse. 

Many people think that the biggest factor when sports return will be the desperation of the “people at the top.” Those people include owners, television networks, among other sources. This could be considered corporate greed or selfishness by some, but truly that is what will determine when sports will come back: when the owners, TV network owners et al decide they want their cash flow back and that the country is safe enough. This would be welcomed by fans, albeit without perspective.  This isn’t really that good of a decision. Sports aren’t sports without fans, that has been decided from watching clips of the Korean sports leagues played in empty stadiums that just don’t feel right. Sports should return when the whole package can return, fans included. This might not be a popular opinion, but it is one that should be considered. Think of it like this: was The Office the same when Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) left the show? Of course not. Same rule applies to sports. If the fans are taken away, sports won’t feel the same. That is why sports leagues across the country and the world should make sports a secondary priority at this time of crisis and confusion.