There was hope. There was a light at the end of tunnel that we thought we saw recently.
All of the major sports, professional and college, were finalizing how they were going to restart or start their seasons soon. Then came the news we had all feared on Friday.
COVID-19 outbreaks amongst teams.
Not just one league, not just one team, but multiple leagues and teams reported outbreaks.
We knew it was going to happen. It felt inevitable, but I guess we held out hope that the virus would miraculously skip over athletes. I know, that’s ridiculous thinking, but when it comes to the coronavirus, it does not discriminate. It can and will hit anyone and everyone even if you follow all the precautions to the letter.
Teams that had gathered to practice and get ready for their seasons weren’t just allowed to come back without any guidelines. There were detailed guidelines put into place, and that shows us how easy it is for this virus to enter and spread amongst people.
Clemson University announced on Friday that 28 student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 among 315 players and coaches that were tested since they returned to campus. It is being reported by The Athletic that 23 of those positive tests are football players.
Thirty LSU football players have been quarantined for either testing positive for the coronavirus or for coming into contact with those that are positive.
The Philadelphia Phillies had an outbreak at their spring training facility in Clearwater, Florida. In a release by the team they stated that five players and three staff members working at the facility tested positive for the virus.
Major League Baseball then announced they were closing facilities in Florida and Arizona for cleaning. Florida and Arizona have made the news lately for all of the wrong reasons. Those two states are among a number of states that have seen record numbers daily of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Many teams are moving training camps and teams to home ballparks in states that have coronavirus numbers trending downward to hopefully keep the players and staff from contracting the virus.
In the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning has shut its facilities down after multiple players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. The Lightning facility is just 23 miles from Clearwater where the Phillies outbreak occurred.
This brings us to the question that is on everyone’s mind, what happens next?
The only league that isn’t reporting COVID-19 positive tests is the NBA, but the problem with the NBA is they had planned on starting their season back in Orlando in their own “bubble” to avoid exposure, but Florida is still reporting record numbers of positive tests as the virus is spreading rapidly throughout the state.
Each league (with the exception of MLB) had began working toward restarting their seasons. The plans were in place, and they were a month or so away, but now they are faced with the reality that there will be positive tests, and there will be outbreaks amongst teams, but now comes the hard part of figuring out what to do when that occurs.
If a player or two test positive when the seasons start, will things shut down completely, or will those people just be removed and play continues?
Do they even start the seasons now that they are seeing outbreaks amongst smaller groups? These are questions that have to be answered. You cannot keep skirting the issue without a concrete plan, because if you go through all of the effort to get the players back and competing, there needs to be something in place for the inevitable positive tests.
Another thing you can do is keep the players out of nightclubs. LSU is reporting that their outbreak is traced back to more than 100 people testing positive that had recently attended a nightclub in Baton Rouge. Nightclubs have never been the cleanest places in the world, and it is hard for me to imagine that everyone in the club is social distancing. Coaches and players need to come to some sort of agreement that allows them to still have a social life, but to also use precautions to help stop the spread of the virus.
It will be interesting to see how it is handled amongst the collegiate and professional ranks and what it means for the near future of sports. One step forward and two steps back it seems.