Pathway to Return? Dr. Fauci Lays Out the Road Map for Sports
It’s been more than a month since the sporting world ground to an abrupt halt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant. To quote former AWA announcer Rod Trongard, it’s gone from coast to coast and continent to continent, leaving a path of disorganization, devastation and chaos in its wake. As fans, players and owners alike sit idly by waiting for something to change in a positive direction to get back to some sense of normalcy, there have been at least some glimmers of hope being bandied about.
The latest news came out in a weeklong interview series on Snapchat as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is constantly on the news at the moment as the face of the battle against the coronavirus in the United States, spoke with Peter Hamby about the return of sports. He was asked about the return of baseball and the hope that college and pro football seasons would get underway uninterrupted when they are due to start later this year. When presented with the question by Hamby, Fauci had the following to say about how things would have to look in order for sports to be back on going forward:
” There's a way of doing that. Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out."
Dr. Fauci’s statements seem to dovetail with what has been considered by both the MLB and the NBA at this point. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that MLB has been mapping out several potential contingency plans, mainly centered around limiting travel as much as possible and keeping the majority of the teams in one or two states. That falls in nicely with what Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said Tuesday night as he stated that his state is ready to take in all 30 teams, if necessary, to get the MLB season going. His statement was as follows:
“Arizona, at the right time, is very open-minded to hosting whatever Major League Baseball would like from the state. At the time that it would be appropriate for public health, if Arizona were in a position to reopen, we have the facilities that are here. We have the hotel space that is here. We all want to make certain that the metrics and the data are proper before we're able to go forward, but I think two words that would allow the country and the state of Arizona to know that things were headed back to normal would be: Play ball!"
With the move by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that made WWE an essential business opening up the potential for the Sunshine State to be a potential boost for other sports, it could easily open the door for baseball to take place there as well. The fact that the stadiums would have to be empty isn’t a major obstacle as teams have seen this come into play already. Several postseason college conference basketball tournaments were played with limited to no fans before they were eventually canceled. While it’s not the ideal situation, recent studies show that a majority of people that were polled state that they wouldn’t go to a sporting event without a vaccine for COVID-19.
In the current state of the sports world, where people are reduced to watching hoops players playing H-O-R-S-E, or betting on events such as ping pong, NFL draft prop bets and virtual NASCAR races, the hope that actual sports can return sooner rather than later is something that is going to drive all sports fans and bettors. While the polls showed that fans may be a bit reticent about going to see games in person, even if that was an option, one has to think that the hunger for live competition will stimulate fan interest. That could lead to a spike in television ratings, which may well impact the number of bets made at sportsbooks. After all, if you’re going to bet on ping pong, wouldn’t you expect to lay down a couple of bets based on team sports with personnel that you’re actually familiar with?
While it’s likely that we’re still a little way off from the return of sports in general, and well off from sports as we know them, it’s nice to hear something positive about the timeline. The fact that Fauci, who is well-known at this stage of things, is optimistic that it could make a return sooner rather than later is refreshing. With both Arizona and Florida opening the door to bring sports inside their borders, it seems that perhaps the long, barren stretch of nothingness is finally starting to give way to some hope. At this stage of the game, even the first flicker of light can seem like a beacon cutting through the darkness. Let’s hope that the light continues to get brighter as the days go forward and that we get closer to having actual sports to tune in and watch as opposed to what we’ve had to muddle through of late.