When will professional sports feel “normal” again?

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The Kansas City Star/Tammy Ljungblad

The Kansas City Chiefs prepare to play their first game of the season at Arrowhead Stadium, with a limited number of fans allowed with social distancing and masks required.

Blake Kingsbury, Photojournalist

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began to spread around the world, all major sports leagues came to a halt. Although at the time, it seemed as if we may not be able to watch a professional sporting event until 2021, sports were able to safely resume without fans around the end of May, with many soccer leagues in Europe restarting their seasons without fans, and with mandatory Covid testing for the players. The MLB became the first major sport to resume play in the United States during mid-July, also without fans. Shortly after, the NBA resumed their season in a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida, where teams played their games in two separate practice style courts at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. 

 

While being able to see all of our favorite teams and players perform again was certainly something to be grateful for, pretty much everyone who has watched a sports game on TV since March will admit that something just “doesn’t feel right.” 

 

Most of these people will agree that the main reason things don’t feel right is because of the lack of fans, or no fans at all. For example, the NBA had live stream videos of people plastered onto a digital screen behind the team benches. This sounded like a great idea at first, but neither the players or viewers at home were able to hear what the people on these screens were cheering or saying, so it actually just made things feel more awkward. Top it off with socially-distanced interviews, and a plain basketball court with no color or variety, and the excitement of the NBA playoffs was just not there this year. Alex Robinson (12) said about this year’s playoffs, “Obviously it wasn’t going to feel the same as usual because of COVID, but it just felt like the playoffs were held on a practice court with no enthusiasm.”

 

So, a big question arises from all of this: When will sports be 100% back to normalcy? Well, as you may expect, almost all professional sports leagues have announced that until a widespread vaccine is available across the country, 100% fan attendance will not be allowed at stadiums or arenas. However, there is hope that this may happen sooner than we think. As soon as next week, the first U.S. citizens are expected to receive the Pfizer vaccine. If this goes well, then there is a very good chance that this vaccine will be available to the general public around March or April. Whether or not taking the vaccine will be mandatory to attend the games is unknown at the moment.

 

Also, many NFL teams have already allowed 25-50% capacity in their stadiums, and some NBA teams, such as the Utah Jazz and the Orlando Magic, are also allowing fans in the stands to start off the new NBA season at the end of the month. 

 

As weird and frustrating as the year has been, at least we are starting to finally see light at the end of the tunnel, with vaccines starting to become available much sooner than we originally imagined. Although sports most likely won’t feel normal again until that vaccine is here, let’s stay strong, and try and stay positive about the fact that we will be able to cheer on our favorite teams and players again next year!