Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did an interview with Snapchat’s Peter Hamby this week.
Fauci believed sports can come back this summer, but there’s a big caveat.
“People are still holding out hope that there will be an abbreviated baseball season this summer,” Hamby asked. “College football will start in late August. NFL right after that. Do you think those sports seasons are in jeopardy? Are we going to have college football this fall?”
“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci replied. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels wherever you want to play. Keep them very-well surveilled and have them tested every week. And make sure they don’t end up infecting each other or their family and just let them play their season out. People will say well you can’t play without spectators.
“I think you’ll probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game, particularly me,” he added. “I’m living in Washington. We have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again.”
All of the major sports leagues have suspended their seasons, including the NHL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR, as the novel coronavirus has spread worldwide. The only sport that has found a way to continue is the WWE, who recently held Wrestlemania at the WWE Performance Center in front of no fans. They have continued taping its weekly shows after Governor Ron DeSantis’ office amended Florida’s stay-at-home order to make “professional sports and media production with a national audience” an essential business in the state. Dana White’s UFC has also acquired a private island, which he’s nicknamed Fight Island, to hold MMA fights in the summer.
But when any of the other major sports leagues start up again is anyone’s guess. The NHL on Tuesday pushed back its self-quarantining period for another 15 days to April 30. Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is willing to play deep into the summer to complete the season.
“I think right now there’s too much uncertainty,” Bettman said on when the NHL could return. “Hopefully, we’ll all know more by the end of April. From an NHL standpoint, and I’m sure this is what the other leagues are doing, we’re viewing all of our options. We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light. And the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the country where you can’t play and other places you can. We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in. Nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined, what we do, by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well and the health of the country — both Canada and the US obviously.”
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Bettman added that “until there’s a sense that people can get together, not just to fill our arenas but even our players to get together to work out, we don’t know when we can come back.”
“I’d say it’s one possibility, for sure, and it’s something that has been considered and something that has been discussed,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said to NHL.com on Friday. “It’s not our preferred result or outcome.”
While the sports leagues returning would bring entertainment to fans and generate revenue for their businesses, there are many who are skeptical it could be done safely and in a humane way. Nationals’ reliever Sean Doolittle and his wife Eireann Dolan recently voiced their concerns.
Ok now what about the non-millionaire hotel workers, security staff, grounds crews, media members, team traveling staffs, clubhouse attendants, janitorial workers, food service workers, and the billion other people required to make that 3.5 hour game happen every night? https://t.co/NIbqsjejvQ
— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) April 7, 2020
“If we’re going to entertain this idea, for the players and the Players’ Association, there has to be that solidarity with those workers who are in those supporting roles,” Doolittle said to The Daily Beast.
Those laborers would be forced to be separated from their loved ones and they would not be compensated at the level of a pro athlete.
“That’s incredibly dehumanizing and it sort of essentializes a person to their job,” Dolan said.
Headline photo: White House/D. Myles Cullen
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