COVID-19 Sports Update: "Strong Conviction" College Football Will Be Played, Baseball in Japan Shut Down, More

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COVID-19 Sports Update: “Strong Conviction” College Football Will Be Played, Baseball in Japan Shut Down, More

Chicago Cubs

Today was supposed to be the open of the minor league seasons, but the COVID-19 shutdown means no sports, and the length and depth of the shutdown may determine whether minor league baseball gets off at all this year. Moreover, it may determine the long-term future of affiliated baseball.

To that end, one other impact-on-impact-on-impact story we’re following is the status of college football, both because of it’s obvious implications for the NFL, and also because of its impact on college sports. Specifically, shouldering the financial load for unprofitable sports like baseball, where significant hits to revenues from college football would be untenable at many schools. And at a time when more talented college baseball players than ever could be expecting college scholarships, not having college football is a looming disaster.

Adam Schefter tonight offers the strongest sentiment we’ve seen (at least from a reporter) about the possibility of college football this fall:

Much like with other sports, there’s only so much you can plausibly project right now – particularly with respect to large crowds – but it’s also true that the country staying entirely locked down for the literal rest of the calendar year seems unlikely. How you balance the re-opening process against the health needs is an ongoing discussion, tied largely to tracking things like peak cases, ICU availability, rapid testing production, antibody test studies, and, eventually, a vaccine.

Could we be in a position for large crowds to attend college football games by September or October? That’s five+ months away, so we can’t rule it out – things are tentatively progressing in a positive direction right now. But much like with pro baseball and football, there needs to be serious contingency planning in the even that merely delaying the start of the season is not enough. There must be levels of “lesser” seasons/attendance/whatever that you’re willing to accept if it’s the only safe way to conduct sports.

We’ll keep an eye on this one. Good to hear that there is strong conviction about a season, though you want to feel like that is the product of medical and scientific progress, rather than the product of financial urgency. Feels like that all remains TBD.

To that end, it’s important to remember: decisions about who plays where and when will be only partly up to the leagues and teams and conferences and schools. It’s also going to be up to governments and public health officials:

It won’t matter how much “conviction” there is about playing sports if local officials do not agree when the time comes.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the NPB season was shut back down after a trio of players tested positive for COVID-19 after resuming a ramp-up toward the regular season. Now, because of a public emergency declaration by the Prime Minister of Japan, the league is shut down indefinitely. The public emergency status means that at least eight of the twelve teams in the league cannot even conduct full workouts, so an April 24 start to the regular season – which had been the delayed start date – will be impossible.

Things still look on track in South Korea, though, where the KBO is tentatively planning preseason games for less than two weeks from now, and then an early-May start of the regular season. South Korea was something of a model of COVID-19 containment, so it’s not a surprise that they’re far ahead of virtually every other country in being able to project returns to some normal activities. They may even be able to get in a full 144-game season.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.