How Can Sports Resume?

The calendar will not just be picked up where it left off for any sport once sports can be played again. So what will it be like? We’re not even to the point of a hypothetical timetable for the resumption of activities yet.

NBA tournament at a Vegas casino – the epicenter of the cancelation of sports in North America from the outset, the NBA, would very much like to bring its 2019-20 season to some sort of conclusion. Las Vegas, which will be in desperate need of events once restrictions are lifted, has been floated as a home for such an event. Even if fans still can’t gather, there are a lot of open indoor spaces along the strip. The remaining schedule in full isn’t likely to be played out, but one suggestion that has gained some traction is for a few of the top teams to convene for a college-style tournament at a single site.

NFL in a bubble – As social distancing drags deeper and deeper into football’s offseason, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said the NFL might need to be prepared for a scenario in which all the league’s 32 teams convene at an isolated facility, certified to be free of the coronavirus with everyone entering being tested. That would allow for the full televised schedule to be played without fans in attendance. Such a facility would need at least 15 regulation-sized fields and a whole lot of training facilities for each individual team. It would be a logistical nightmare, but it’s also not altogether out of the question.

24-team Stanley Cup playoff – Of course, that sort of format wouldn’t be practical for the NHL, as it’s much harder to convert a large floor space into an ice rink. One proposal that could gain traction is for a 24-team playoff with very short series, say best-of-three, in the early rounds with a final series to be contested possibly in the early fall. That’s contingent on being cleared to resume team activities by sometime in the summer, of course, and even that would result in a compressed calendar for the following year. Again, what remained of the schedule isn’t likely to be played, so the league and teams are putting forth any and all ideas to provide a satisfactory finish.

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