Soccer’s back, but what about the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL?
Plans in place but no guarantees
There may not be any fans in the stands but Canadian soccer player Alphonso Davies is back doing what he loves.
The 19-year-old from Edmonton, who plays for Bayern Munich in Germany, is one of only a handful of professional athletes who’ve started competing again following a string of COVID-inspired cancellations.
European soccer (a.k.a. football) restarted in Germany on May 16 and is expected to kick off in Spain after June 8 and in England on June 17.
All without any fans in the stands, of course.
But what’s the game plan for professional leagues in North America? Here’s your update:
The NHL announced a plan to restart the season on Tuesday.
While there are no guarantees that this will happen, some fans are getting their game faces on:
NHL players could be back on the ice by early August — but only if health officials approve the plan.
The league still has to figure out what steps to take in order to protect players from catching COVID-19.
If approved, the top four clubs in the Eastern and Western conferences would automatically get into the playoffs, but would play some round-robin games to decide their placement.
Edmonton, home of the Oilers, is in the running to become one of two hub cities that could host NHL games. But Canadian officials would need to be willing to bend health and safety rules to make that happen. (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
The remaining eight teams would play their own best-of-five series to determine whether they make the playoffs.
Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are all in the running to act as one of two hub cities where those games would be played.
But that would only work if Canadian officials agree to ignore a rule that requires anybody who enters the country to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
There will likely be a rule against high-fives, spitting and maybe even showers at ballparks, but Major League Baseball could restart at some point between mid-June and July 4.
That’s according to a proposal first reported on April 28.
One of the proposals in the MLB report is to have players arrive at the ballpark in uniform and wait until they get home to shower. (Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports)
The highly detailed report (it’s 67 pages long!) still has to be approved by the players’ association.
But on May 15, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “hopeful” players would be back on the diamond this summer.
The idea would be to play all games at one location — a massive property owned by Disney near Orlando, Fla., called the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Players would also practise and live there.
While Disney’s Florida complex appears to be a front-runner, NBA officials are also reportedly considering hosting games in Las Vegas or Houston, Tex. Bit of a change of scene for the Raptors! (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Nothing is confirmed, of course, but this is one of the ideas being passed around.
For now, players are allowed to work out at their training facilities, but only in small groups.
NFL players have been the lucky ones so far.
The last season ended in February without interruptions and the league is on track to start on time on Sept. 10.
If the NFL season goes ahead as planned, Tom Brady will make his debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after leaving the New England Patriots in March. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The plan would be for each team to play 16 regular season games, although officials are coming up with backup plans in case that can’t happen.
If all goes well, fans might even be allowed to watch from the stands, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S.
As for the Canadian Football League, the plan is to kick off in September at the earliest.
The Grey Cup game might be moved from November to December and Regina is no longer guaranteed to host the game.
That said, a fully cancelled season also remains a possibility.
With files from CBC Sports, The Associated Press