One month later, sports remain shut down

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Yes, it was only one month ago today that the NBA suspended play following the positive coronavirus test of Rudy Gobert, triggering an avalanche of sports cancellations that has resulted in a 31-day wasteland consisting merely of NFL free agency, one (and only one) UFC event, and a smattering of pro wrestling. So where are we when it comes to returning to the field, the court, the rink, the wherever?


An idea has percolated regarding a reconvening of the league and a completion of the season in a single city, like Las Vegas. With each passing day, however, players are getting farther out of playing shape, sparking concerns that up to a month would be necessary to get them ready to go.

With no obvious date for beginning an in-season preseason and up to a month needed to prepare players to compete, at some point it will simply make sense to pull the plug on 2019-20 and focus on preparations and strategies for having a 2020-21 season.


The NHL would like to find a way to conclude its regular season and conduct a postseason. Hockey shut down with 189 regular-season games remaining.

On Friday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN that cities throughout North America have expressed interest in hosting neutral-site postseason games, from Grand Forks, North Dakota to Manchester, New Hampshire to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“We do have people putting together the comprehensive laundry list of what we would need from facilities and evaluating some facilities on some level,” Daly told ESPN. “But I can’t tell you we’ve even finished creating a list [of potential sites], much less narrowed it down.”

As with the NBA, players will need to get themselves back in shape. As with the NBA, a practical deadline surely exists for abandoning 2019-20 and turning to 2020-21.


Baseball has been kicking around the possibility of taking all 30 teams to Arizona and starting the season, presumably staying there until the world returns at least to semi-normal. Players understandably are leery about the prospect of being separated from their families for an extended period of time.

Of course, players without families would have fewer qualms about the Camp Baseball concept. And players with families could be replaced by minor leaguers, since the lower levels of the sport will be shut down if fans can’t attend, given the absence of revenue sources other than ticket sales.


The fate of college football could become a microcosm of the broader American political divide. Coaches like Mullet Mike Gundy will insist on trying to play. Administrators will struggle to justify shutting down campuses to everyone but the football team.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby recently addressed the dynamics of the situation.

“Virtually every program is highly reliant on football revenue,” Bowlsby told ESPN. “We’re making lots of contingency plans, but if you don’t get the anticipated number of games in, you lose the donations, you lose the sponsorships, you lose the gate receipts and you lose the TV. It’s potentially very impactful.”

As previously noted, schools at some point will have to drop the student-athlete facade if efforts to play on-campus football become more focused and determined and successful than efforts to hold on-campus classes. Given the money that the schools will be losing, many won’t hesitate to abandon the ruse and admit that football players constitute cogs in a gigantic money-printing machine.

Much like the inconsistent way the various states have implemented (or not) stay at home orders, don’t be surprised if some schools and/or conferences decide to bail on football for 2020 while other schools and/or conferences (specifically the most profitable ones) do all they can to find a way to play.


Pro football didn’t flinch in the face of the pandemic, trudging forward with free agency despite glitches that still linger nearly a month later. Plenty of players haven’t been able to take physicals, and in turn haven’t been able to finalize their contracts. Some necessarily will be at risk of eventually having their tentative deals yanked if their new teams have a younger and cheaper option fall into their laps during the draft.

As to the draft, the league also hasn’t flinched, despite what will be a dramatic adjustment to the process. After the stay-at-home draft, then what?

There likely will be no offseason programs, as the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to try to come up with a plan for allowing players to earn workout bonuses by working out at home. At some point, the NFL’s “we plan to play” mantra will have to yield to a more pragmatic approach: We’ll have a plan for whatever may happen.

Those plans, for all sports, must include the possibility of not playing at all. If no feasible alternative can be identified based on a virus that will set the timeline as to when reality returns, the only realistic option will be to continue to wait.

For the virus to run its course. For widespread antibody testing that will determine the people who already have had the virus. For a vaccine. For a cure.

As to all sports, events well beyond the field, the court, the rink, the wherever will determine whenever the time is right for sports to return.

52 responses to “One month later, sports remain shut down

  1. Coaches like Mullet Mike Gundy


    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Call him names if you like Mike but he’s better at his job then you are at yours.

  2. Barring a vaccination, I don’t see a return for any sports until Spring 2021. If it’s not safe for fans to return, sports’ unions won’t allow the return of players (and coaches, trainers, support staff, tv production crews, on site medics….).

    College football is my true love, but there is no way they will allow 100,000 fans on campuses in the fall with the threat of this virus returning.

  3. Without a vaccine their will be NO sports events, Governors have all the power, not team owners.

    No 2020 baseball or foorball seasons.

  4. It’s honestly better without any professional sports. Hopefully some of those athletes have considered a real job outside sports.

  5. NFL is the only sport that I follow so the season’s fate remains to be seen. I’m glad that I didn’t have to hear about March Madness. Can’t stand basketball!

  6. “Given the money that the schools will be losing, many won’t hesitate to abandon the ruse and admit that football players constitute cogs in a gigantic money-printing machine.”

    The players are the most crucial “cogs in the machine” and even though the colleges may abandon the ruse, they will still do everything possible to avoid paying these kids even a minimal salary.

  7. “Santa Clara County official says 49ers, Sharks games not expected until November, if lucky…”

    I commented on Day One that there would be no football this year because of the close physical nature of football and was blasted here as a “Debbie downer” and down-voted by all those that live in a fantasy land. SAD.

  8. The Federal operating under the CDC prime directives with State Gov.aquesence.The immediate goal is to keep shelter in place and social distancing in effect until at least June 1.After that date covid-19 infection rates accross the country will determine the degree with which social restrictions will continue.At best, only smaller groups of people are going to be allowed to congregate.We are in a different time and the normal of the past is not the normal of the immediate future.

  9. The last time I saw you even close to being this happy was when the Le’Veon Bell holdout became a reality. But now I doubt even Dak Prescot getting the richest contract ever would equal your joy at this pandemic.

  10. You can control a lot of things, but there are things you absolutely can’t control in regards to the virus.

    Players who are married will see their families and they could infect them. Single players will sneak out to try and get laid. Hell, we’ve seen team owners get caught getting hand jobs at rub and rugs and players arrested during Super Bowl weekend getting an escort.

    What’s the plan if a bunch of players get covid 19? What’s the plan if a player ends up in the ICU? What if a player dies at a tournament?

    The smart move is taking this season on the chin and probably parts of next season until a vaccine is available.

    The whole live free or die mentality is cute, but I guarantee you that virtually all the tough talking people would take it all back if they were in the ICU using a ventilator fighting for their life as their body tried to fight the virus. It’s easy to talk tough when you’re assuming you’ll live through it.

  11. One month later, we’re finding out that our lives are just fine without pro sports

  12. Complete train wreck. Part of me says cancel everything the players and owners can afford the loss but the other part of me says figure things out because so many small businesses depend on sports being played for example Wrigley field Half the restraunts bars and small souvenir shops might go out of buisness if they dont play there this season and so many employees who work the stadiums during the season depend on the team playing.The Next couple months will be a complete disaster very Sad for everyone I wish we can hit the reset button for 2020

  13. It’s likely that major sports won’t be playing in front of crowds until there is an effective vaccine, which will likely be years, if ever. They may decide to play in empty arenas and stadiums, which would be better than nothing.

    I can see it now. Football games and basketball games would be handled like current sitcoms on TV. Cheering and crowd noise will be fake, but will still add to the experience, just like in TV shows.

    Things are changing and we have to adapt…we have no choice.

  14. The only sport that I’m even paying even minor attention to over the past few years is NFL football. After this, perhaps the four golf majors. That’s it.

    After the fix was on in the Saints-Rams NFC Championship Game, I found other things to do. At this point I couldn’t care less if the primary Donna players ever return.

  15. The NFL will likely return for the 2022 season, until then, no vaccine, no games.

    Stay healthy my friends!

  16. MLB has been kicking around the idea of 2 leagues. The Grapefruit League and The Cactus League. Interesting.

  17. bondlake says:
    After the fix was on in the Saints-Rams NFC Championship Game, I found other things to do. At this point I couldn’t care less if the primary Donna players ever return.

    And yet, here you are, visiting a pro football site, clicking on and reading stories, and even taking the time to comment on a thing you claim to not care whether it ever returns or not.
    Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

  18. Without fans in attendance any played games will have a hollow ring. Almost like a pick-up game. It won’t be pretty.

  19. And yet, we have all gone on with our lives (Maybe except for the few myopic fans that care ore about sports than the actual athletes that play them). Contrary to what people like Drew Brees thinks, we don’t NEED sports.

  20. If they could play sports somehow it would do a lot for their product as people are starving for entertainment right now. Ratings would be through the roof with everyone at home. Netflix and Hulu will have been binged watched and live sports will be a big welcome. Can you imagine a month from now, how bored people will be? Let’s just hope the public’s safety isn’t jeopardized trying to entertain.

  21. I’m not watching sports without fans in the stands. How boring would that be, like watching practice.

  22. How much of the economy relies on completely non-essential things like pro sports should be a wake-up call. This could be a good chance to re-evaluate everything and shift the focus to where it belongs – taking care of people and their health and welfare first, and the Wall Street money machine and affluent hoarding last – but I doubt it will be used as such.

  23. Let’s hope they stop the quarantine by the 4th of July so we can celebrate our freedom

  24. PhD says:
    April 11, 2020 at 12:57 pm
    Without fans in attendance any played games will have a hollow ring. Almost like a pick-up game. It won’t be pretty.
    Do you tune-in because of crowd size? Crowd size does not matter at all. We could just get the Falcons and possibly the Colts audio guys to crank out some more product for the games until the real crowds cane come back.

  25. Playing without fans wouldn’t affect the way that I watch games.

    As it was, I would usually turn on the TV, then tune to the radio station that was broadcasting it live. I think that radio broadcasters tend to do a better job since they have to describe the game better than “color” people on TV.

    I think that the lack of fans in a stadium will affect the players the most. Some of them live for the crowd cheering (and yes, booing).

    Will games be as much fun with no fans? Of course not, but it will be a heck of a lot better than no games at all. And it might be interesting to see how teams do without having the advantage of the home-crowd noise.

    I’d like to see how well Seattle does without the crowd noise from a stadium specifically designed to amplify the noise.

  26. Without sports there will be a glut of people entering the labor market who are only qualified to push brooms.

  27. I’ve been enjoying the Super Bowls they’ve been replaying from before when I had my big screen tv. I was late to that party because of some stupid furniture we had…

  28. “Without fans in attendance any played games will have a hollow ring. Almost like a pick-up game. It won’t be pretty.”

    I have briefly watched the WWE broadcasts the last couple weeks simply because of the bizareness of what they do when its in front of zero fans. And it was just plain awful watching them go through all their shouting, posing, entrances etc without the fans.

    Imagine and NFL game where someone gets the big sack or a pick six and the player is doing his celebration dance to silence except for the whoops and yells of a few of his teammates.

    That too will be awful and unwatchable.

  29. Sports will be back by June or July at the latest. The numbers simply aren’t there anymore to continue to justify the national lockdown we’ve all endured.

  30. Amazing that so many people on here think this virus will control our lives for so long. The worst of this thing is almost over. And at some point soon, we will go back to our lives. There are many, many things in this world that can kill us. We can’t cower in fear for the rest of our lives.

    Life will go on, as will sports.

  31. After all the years ripping off consumers by charging them full ticket for pitiful pre-season games, I can see the NFL creating 12-person teams, with six people on each team spaced six feet apart, playing each other on pay-per-view with a $50 price tag.

    Anybody think the NFL is above that ?

  32. Pro Sports will take an enormous hit from this virus. This entire industry is in for MAJOR correction related to gate sales.

    If you think upper middle class fans, my guess on who buys the most season tickets, or tickets in general, are going to flock back to booze fest, scuzzy facilities to shell a weeks salary to watch pro athletes make more $ in one game than they will in 10 years, think again. Think harder and think again.
    The risk of catching this or whatever the next virus is that comes down the pipeline coupled with sky-high unemployment, health insurance uncertainty and future uncertainty in general, dwarfs the return of watching a game they can watch on TV.
    Major tectonic shift on pro sports will result from this that wont abate any time soon

  33. Nobody likes or wants the lockdown. It isn’t a political issue. We are mitigating the worst of it with our extreme actions. It seems to be working, but it only works if we keep doing it until we can start testing everyone, everywhere, regularly. It’s like a prison break, we have to hunt and capture the virus until it is eradicated from society.

    And though national news media would have you believe New York city is the center of the universe, there are actually a lot of other places in America, and many of those are just starting their trajectory, and have some tough weeks ahead. Again, I promise you, nobody is happy about it or rooting for it.

  34. I’m surprised at how little I miss sports. Going forward many will realize that the true heroes are the ones that helped us get through this virus. I have such a new respect for the people that work in our grocery stores and at Walmart. All the medical people and the first responders. Even my mailman is a hero in my eyes. Without him risking his life I don’t get paid. Instead of watching sports I have started spending more time reading and doing other hobbies. I’m sure I’ll watch sports when it comes back but it will no longer be the obsessive and all important activity like I once thought it was. There is a whole bigger and better world outside of sports.

  35. Vaccines are no guarantee just so a bunch of you above know. *rolls eyes* More likely a money making scam by big pharma whose main investors are also big players in the military industry.

  36. I continue to be amazed at how many people are OK with this, not just sports, but the disruption of our entire way of life for a flu that’s nowhere near as lethal as the one back in 2009. To read fans here seemingly ROOTING for no football season is astounding.

  37. Bob Bowlsly of the BIG 10 is a total idiot – this is one of the most irresponsible things I have read. So does this DOLT realize WE ARE IN A PANDEMIC ! You can’t put hundreds of thousands of people at risk because of the money. 1 person can literally get thousands sick. 2 months ago I bought a respirator and three weeks ago I started wearing it. People were clowning me an making snide comment and three weeks later people are asking me where I got it and can they get one and they can’t. I didn’t get the last laugh because none of this is funny. I’m not worried about sports right now…. I’m worried about just getting through tomorrow.

  38. Without fans in attendance any played games will have a hollow ring. Almost like a pick-up game. It won’t be pretty.

    That’s not true. The Rays have played a lot of exciting home games under those conditions,

  39. So glad we have Pro Football Talk. This is keeping my sanity until we get rolling again. Stay healthy everyone!

  40. Everything is shut down! New York City shut down their schools for the rest of the school year.
    Sports is wonderful but it’s not everything. I have no problem finding other things to do without sports. I’m sure many sports fans do as well.
    That’s something all the owners and players should think about the next time they try to gouge the fans for more money.

  41. I think this could be one of the better outcomes of this crisis. As a nation we’ve become obsessed with sports and now we’re learning it’s just entertainment, and there are other, maybe better options. The billionaires who dominate these leagues don’t care about the fans. There care about the profits and their own egos, but they’ve known sports are an addiction for the fans and they leverage that addiction for merchandise, ticket prices, media deals, and an assortment of other revenue streams. This very may well set the industry back and that might be good overall.

  42. cardinealsfan2o says:
    April 11, 2020 at 11:06 am

    The last time I saw you even close to being this happy was when the Le’Veon Bell holdout became a reality. But now I doubt even Dak Prescot getting the richest contract ever would equal your joy at this pandemic.


    Agree 100%. Why someone would build a career around something they clearly despise is beyond me.

  43. Are the guys who call people staying at home “sheep” and “chicken little” the same people who smoke 2 packs a day and think cigarettes aren’t bad for you?

  44. moerawn says:
    I continue to be amazed at how many people are OK with this, not just sports, but the disruption of our entire way of life for a flu that’s nowhere near as lethal as the one back in 2009. To read fans here seemingly ROOTING for no football season is astounding.

    You chose a very apropos screen name, spelling notwithstanding.

  45. There isn’t a single projection that would suggest we aren’t back to normal by 2022. Thats great news for a detroit fan as we need two years to become competitive in each major sport

  46. If it’s not safe for fans to be in attendance, how is it safe for players to play? There are just too many variables with this virus that could decimate a team or teams with one infection. How would you feel if some coach tried to force your 18-21 y/o child to play (college)? Every year we are hearing about a kid dying during a workout and folks not knowing that the kid had underlying health issues. Imagine if Coaches force kids to play sooner than the rest of the country opens and the kid contracts coronavirus and dies? This is a real outcome

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