Sports

Sports world should remain on hiatus for several more weeks, CDC says

Only a few days into a hibernation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it appears the American sports world could remain on pause for several more weeks, if not longer.

Discourages gatherings of 50 or more people over next 8 weeks

As the coronavirus pandemic grows, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation on Sunday that any gatherings of 50 or more people, including sporting events, should be cancelled for at least the next eight weeks. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Only a few days into a hibernation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it appears the American sports world could remain on pause for several more weeks, if not longer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation on Sunday that any gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks across the country should be postponed or cancelled. The recommendation does not apply to day-to-day operations of schools or businesses, but it does apply to conferences, parades, concerts, weddings and sporting events.

Various cities, such as St. Louis, have already banned such gatherings over the next eight weeks, and several states have already put similar restrictions in place, with more expected as the virus continues to spread.

The eight-week period would run through May 10, with the potential to affect a number of major sporting events scheduled in the interim.

NBA eyes mid-to-late June return

While the NFL league year and free agency will start on schedule Wednesday, the draft is scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas. Barring a significant postponement, the draft would have to be held without fans — and perhaps top prospects — in attendance, with the possibility it could be conducted remotely, much in the way it was several decades ago.

An eight-week timeline could also disrupt NFL teams' off-season programs, including conditioning and weight lifting, as well as on-field work at rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamps.

In-season sports such as the NBA, the first major sports league to suspend play when it did so Wednesday, are expected to remain suspended for some time.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that NBA owners and executives "increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play — with no fans." The report added that the league is looking at available dates at its arenas all the way through August.

With about a month's worth of games remaining in the regular season, a mid-to-late June return would mean the playoffs wouldn't begin until mid-to-late July, more than a month and a half after the NBA Finals typically end. The NBA draft is usually held in late June, with free agency at the beginning of July.

NHL, MLS, MLB would all be effected

The NHL's timeline is just slightly ahead of the NBA's, with three-to-four weeks' worth of the regular season remaining.

MLS is only two weeks into its season, while MLB was set to begin before the end of the month.

MLS could conceivably push its season later into the calendar, as it used to hold the MLS Cup in December prior to last year, when it was held Nov. 10.

That could be more difficult for MLB, which would be more affected if games were pushed into winter. The World Series typically concludes by the end of October or first week of November.

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