Usually, the questions are easy, even if the answers are hard. But when it came to the unprecedented pausing and cancelling of sports across the country this week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is taking me some time – a day, anyway – to even process the questions.
Once we establish that pro sports leagues are indeed acting wisely to limit the pace of community spread of the disease, the most obvious question is “how long do we all have to do this social distancing thing for the worst to pass and then get back to normal in a safe way?”
The point of these social distancing measures is to slow the spread of the disease enough that, as more and more people get it – and they will – the truly sickest among us can safely get care at health facilities. So basically, it’s not about waiting until the sickness is totally gone (that could take a year or more, if it ever really dissipates). It’s about waiting until we’ve peaked in the accelerating pace of new cases, which we can’t even know until there is massive, massively available testing – we’re just not there yet.
So that is to say, in the first of many unanswerable questions at this moment, that’s the big one. And it’s why MLB delayed the start of its season by at least two weeks, buying themselves time to evaluate how long they’ll *actually* have to delay by. Given that states like Illinois have already declared no large public gatherings through April, I think you can get a sense that health experts believe we won’t be past that peak until at least May. I would not expect baseball to resume until at least May, and maybe later.
With that in mind, there is a huge list of follow-up questions that pop into my mind because of the uncharted waters …
There are no doubt many, many more questions to be answered. These are only the ones that popped into my head upon initially digesting the news.
These issues will be discussed and addressed in the coming weeks. There aren’t easy answers on some of these, and worse, some have the potential to create even more conflict.
Hopefully everyone will continue to operate in a spirit of cooperative understanding, both for the health and safety of everyone, and also for a positive resumption of the sport (whenever that time comes). We’re gonna need it.