The Gradual Return of Live Sports

Writer: Sasha D.

Visual: Shawna T. 

Editor: Keitaro H.

On March 11, the starting center for the Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert, became the first professional American sportsman to test positive for COVID-19. His diagnosis caused a domino effect of sporting closures beginning with the NHL, MLS and MLB. Today, the only operational North American sporting events are the UFC, horse racing, and NASCAR – all three of which have barred live attendance. 

For the inside scoop on an avid fan’s opinion of the NASCAR resumption, I went to my grandmother. 

On the prospect of her attendance to a future live event, she commented: “since I’m an older person, it would make a difference for me to have a little distance and a facemask.” Noticing her excitement, she seemed ready to jump right back into it. Curious, I asked if she’d really be ready to attend so unconditionally. Suspiciously, she did not answer that question. Instead, she went on to explain the culture of the NASCAR fan base “I don’t think most fans would wear a mask. I think most would go if stadiums were open to the public again.” 

After a 2 month hiatus, the German Football league ,Bundesliga, resumed live games on May 16. Similarly, the DFL (Deutsche fußball liga) are following the precedent set by the Bundesliga and are reopening the dutch football league in the coming weeks. Christian Seifert, chief executive of the DFL, said “the global interest in the resumption of live sports is growing.” However, safety precautions are in place to prevent possible infection during games. For example, players and referees will be asked to undergo periodic nCOV-19 testing.

France and the Netherlands, however, have banned sporting events until September of 2020. Are Germany’s changing regulations a stepping stone for the easing of sports restrictions across the continent, or an ill-advised anomaly? 

After announcements heralding the resumption of international sporting events by Bundesliga and NASCAR, sports fans have become starkly polarised. A month ago, fans would have balked at desolate, empty stadiums – but weeks into the pandemic, resumption seems unfathomable to many. 30% of fans say they don’t know when they’ll feel comfortable attending live sporting events again. 70% urge leagues to go on hiatus until largescale gatherings are approved by the CDC. Others, however, are intent on athletic activities reopening immediately. This division is an extremely hot-button issue in the sports world.

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In conclusion, though more sports are coming back, sports organizations must maintain a careful balance between safety and satisfaction, mirroring the global dynamic in which the world finds itself currently.