A Dose of Opinion

COVID-19 and Professional Sports

August 21, 2020

A big part of the American lifestyle revolves around being able to support your favorite sports teams in a variety of professional and collegiate sports, such as American football, basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, you name it. Each team has fans that are “die-hard” supporters, and some people are willing to argue against other team supporters to defend their own team. Fans might choose their favorite sports based on their hometown and where they were born: loyal fans that will support their favorite teams during the highs and lows. Others might be considered a bandwagon fan, in which they support a very good team based on the performance: such fans aren’t as loyal, but likely find joy in seeing the team fare well in the playoff competition, sometimes winning a title, if they are lucky enough. The overall unpredictableness of some games, miraculous endings, upsets in which the underdog team beats the better team, and all other sorts of scenarios make watching sports extremely entertaining.

The sport I enjoy watching the most would be American football, and I was introduced to the sport by my brother and his friends at a young age. One of the first games I can remember watching was the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl XLVII game, in 2013, about six to seven years ago. I was probably around six to seven years of age and I remember that it was an incredibly exhilarating game that I first experienced. The head coaches for both teams were actually brothers: John Harbaugh for the Ravens, and Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers. The Baltimore Ravens had a twenty point lead for most of the Super Bowl game, when all of a sudden, an unexpected blackout in the whole stadium gave the 49ers time to adjust the gameplay, and later almost fueled a comeback.The game was close: the Ravens won the game by only three points, but Ravens were able to defend a catch on the last play that allowed them to just barely win the game. Most games that I watched since then were not nearly as interested as this Super Bowl game, but this Super Bowl piqued my interest and encouraged me to continue to watch American football games. While I am willing to watch any game on television, my favorite team that I would root for is the Seattle Seahawks, and I always want to see them win their games and maybe win a Super Bowl, the thought haunted by a past Super Bowl loss in 2015, in which the team failed to score just one yard away from the touchdown zone.

In a physical sport like American football, in which players come in very close contact with each other, it is very difficult during a time like this, as separating six feet away from everyone at all times is impossible to play. The National Football League (NFL) has done a decent job creating rules and coordinating with the football teams, but whether these rules can be enforced during a long period time is something that must be wondered. This plan must prevent the virus from spreading through the league, with the upcoming season less than one month away. Enforcing these rules for about six months proves difficult: even one person that contracts coronavirus from an outside source can easily spread the disease throughout the whole league which would likely postpone the rest of the football season. Considering the harsh repercussions the NFL could face, it might be a safer move to completely postpone the season, as an excessive amount of confirmed cases could completely eliminate teams, making it unfair for those teams, and if teams keep getting eliminated, then games would become unplayable if most opponents aren’t present, and can’t play. If we really consider the honest reality, it is unlikely that no one contracts COVID-19, and the season won’t proceed as planned. Even if this American football season does not go as planned, we should hope that the next season after this season will go much more smoothly and COVID-19 hopefully shouldn’t be as prevalent.

However, it’s also possible that my view is too pessimistic and that the National Football League and each of the 32 teams in the league can cooperate together in order to have a football season. Looking at the National Basketball Association (NBA), the league games had to be cancelled mid-season, when coronavirus cases began picking up, and some players began contracting the virus, so the rest of the league’s games had to be shut down until a later date. The league has since made changes on how the games would be played, and as a result, an NBA “restart” season has been created, so that the the rest of the season can be played out and a playoff tournament can be played, to determine which team will be the league’s champion in the year of the coronavirus. Since the league’s alterations of the restart season began about one month after this new league began, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the NBA, which is amazing. However, only one month has been established for one month, and there are up to two more months of the basketball season. How much longer will the streak of no cases last? In conclusion, if both the National Football League and National Basketball Association can create a plan that works in this new situation, and also sticks with the plan, it is possible that both leagues can continue to go on with the season without much problem.