The Return Of Sports: What America Needs
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
By Reese Wildermuth
Founder of www.AllThingsSportsBlog.com
Between Coronavirus sweeping the world, and protests breaking out over George Floyd and racial inequality, sports have been far from the public eyes for quite a few days. However, leagues like the NBA and the MLB have released potential return plans to the public. Here's a quick look at some of the policies enacted by the major sports leagues, and my opinions on their potential returns.
Image Credits: David Butler Ii/USA Today Sports, via Reuters
NBA entertains various playoff format
After losing "March Madness", the college basketball tournament that is arguably the most entertaining event in sports, fans from all over were devastated at the idea of potentially losing the 2020 NBA season to Coronavirus. After much speculation, the NBA has now come up with four potential scenarios to finish out the season. The first option is simple: the top 16 teams make the playoffs. While all the teams have played at least 63 games, this would hurt some teams in the western conference pining for a late run. The next option proposed is having 20 teams return, which would feature group/stage play, according to NBA.com. The third option would include 22 teams, which would feature a play-in tournament to determine who would be the 7 or 8 seed in each conference, giving teams like the Portland Trailblazers (9th seed in the western conference) a chance to make the post-season, which would undoubtedly give the NBA staggering views. The final option would be to have all 30 teams complete a 72-game regular season and have a play-in tournament with every team. All these scenarios would be played in Orlando at Walt Disney World, most likely with no fans.
Out of all these options, my favorite would be the third option, the 22-team option. While I am a fan of seeing as much basketball as I can, 30 teams do not deserve a chance at the playoffs. However, a 22-team play-in tournament would realistically give teams that had a chance to make a run late in the regular season that same chance. NBA fans would love to see Zion Williamson, Carmelo Anthony, Ja Morant, and Damian Lillard make a run at a 7 or 8 seed, and with the lack of live sports at the moment, this would certainly give the NBA revenue that they desperately need.
NHL announces new playoff format:
On Tuesday, May 28th, the NHL announced that 24 teams will compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, 8 more than usual. The tournament will have the bottom eight compete in a best-of-5 series to make the playoffs, and the top four seeds will have a round robin tournament to solidify seeding. While a date has not been set for the playoffs to officially begin, they will most likely begin late July/early August.
MLB owners versus the players union:
MLB owners have approved a plan to start baseball in early July, after cutting spring training short. In March, the MLB and MLBPA reached an 82-game agreement. However, the MLB has suggested more play cuts, which has caused a lot of anger from players who get paid $20 million, all the way to $500,000. Max Scherzer, star pitcher for the Washington Nationals, has been one of the many players at the forefront of this debate, pointing to the fact that owners rake in record profits year after year, while players continue taking pay cuts across all levels of baseball. The latest proposal by the MLB would see the salary of every player reduced to 35% of their original salary, which is even lower than the original 54% the MLBPA agreed to. According to commissioner Rob Manfred, the MLB will lose $4 billion this year, which is a factor for these drastic pay cuts. However, with the major health concerns, many players are asking themselves is all of this is worth the risk of their life. While not all facts are public, it looks like this debate will not be settled any time soon.
While the NBA, NHL, and MLB do not make up the professional ranks of every sport, they are the three that have created the most buzz and controversy in the past few weeks. The PGA, La Liga, and UFC are all in the process of returning to normal as well, and have announced return dates, or in the case of the UFC, have already returned. The NFL has said that they are continuing on schedule, with virtual workouts and Zoom meetings.
Personally, I am most excited about the NBA and NHL returning. Unlike the rest of the leagues, the NBA and NHL will begin with high stakes tournaments, resulting in the best of live sports that America has so desperately missed. While the lack of fans will be strange, the possibility of hearing our favorite athlete’s mic'd up during the most competitive moment of their seasons is something that sports have not really featured in the past. Regardless of the outcome, sports are unquestionably missed. The world desperately needs something to bond over right now, and with the political unrest in our country, sports are our best bet of achieving unity again.