Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top public health expert, said in an interview with the New York Times that it might be difficult for major sports to resume play this year.
Fauci tied any comeback to widespread testing with quick results, something that’s talked about often but isn’t yet avaialble.
“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything,” Fauci said. “If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’”
Leagues are working through options for how to get back to games, with or without fans in the seats. Fauci himself said he’d only feel comfortable returning to a stadium when the level of infection is lower than it is now. The United States topped the 1 million-confirmed case threshold Tuesday.
“What we need to do is get it, as a country and as individual locations, under control,” Fauci said. “That sometimes takes longer than you would like, and if we let our desire to prematurely get back to normal, we can only get ourselves right back in the same hole we were in a few weeks ago.
“We’ve got to make sure that when we try to get back to normal, including being able to play baseball in the summer and football in the fall and basketball in the winter, that when we do come back to some form of normality, we do it gradually and carefully. And when cases do start to rebound — which they will, no doubt — that we have the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing.”
As it pertains to the NFL, there’s at least the benefit of more time, as options including a delayed start to the season have already been discussed. With NBA and NHL seasons stopped midway, and MLB in spring training when shutdowns began because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a more current problem. NASCAR could return in late May, if problems in the areas where races are scheduled don’t get worse.