When will it be safe for sports to start back up again? That’s something many millions of fans want to know, and it will be addressed as part of President Trump’s agenda today.
A call with the commissioners of the professional sports leagues has been scheduled for today. The noon entry on Saturday’s official White House schedule says, “The President participates in a phone call with Major League Commissioners.”
The entry does not say which commissioners will be on the call, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would presumably take part.
So far the NFL has been the least-affected of America’s pro sports by the coronavirus pandemic, simply because the nationwide shutdown is taking place during the NFL’s offseason. But NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills acknowledged this week that the NFL regular season may not be able to go on as planned.
Realistically, America probably still has a significant wait before team sports can be played, for the simple reason that Dr. Sills noted this week: The current protocols say that if one person tests positive, everyone who has been in contact with that one person should self-isolate. And that means it would only take one player, coach or other team personnel to test positive for an entire team — and any teams that have recently played against that team — to have to go into isolation. It’s just not feasible for a sports league to re-start its schedule right now, knowing that at any moment one person’s positive test would require whole teams to stop playing and practicing.
And however long it takes until the sports leagues can start playing again, it’s going to take even longer before they can play in a stadium full of fans. It would be reckless and irresponsible for any organization to even consider cramming tens of thousands of people into a stadium right now.
So it’s hard to imagine that there’s going to be much upbeat news coming out of the president’s discussion with commissioners today. The sports leagues may be able to discuss the best public safety protocols for when games are played again, but no one should expect that to happen soon.