PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JULY 28
By Leo Haggerty

WHAT PRICE SPORTS

I hate to say this but it’s time to have a serious conversation on this subject.  What are the commissioners of each sports league, on the professional as well as the collegiate level, willing to accept to either start or restart their leagues?

A couple of days ago it didn’t seem like a relevant topic for discussion.  Now, the landscape has totally changed especially with Major League Baseball.

Up until the beginning of the week, all the sports have done a reasonably good job of keeping the spread of Covid-19 relatively under control.  There were a few isolated incidents but, for the most part, individual teams, both pro and college alike,have been able to slow, and in some cases, eliminate the coronavirus from their facilities.

That all changed this last weekend when Major League Baseball opened its 2020 abbreviated season.  The Miami Marlins, playing in Philly, experienced a large team outbreak.  It forced the cancellation of their home opening series with the Baltimore Orioles.

Also, as an added precaution, the series between the Philadelphia Phillies, who were the opponent of the Marlins in the opening weekend for MLB, and the New York Yankees was postponed.  This will give the league time to make sure none of the Phils have contracted the coronavirus.

That, compounded with the serious “bubble” breach by National Basketball Association player Lou Williams (see yesterday’s column), has got to make the NCAA and the National Hockey League along with the National Football League pause and take notice.  The big question they have to deal with internally is how do we keep this from happening to one of our teams that will force an entire league shutdown.

Now, here’s the problem.  You have to figure that the law of averages are against teams sports.  There are too many variables that schools and franchises cannot control especially with the collegiate game.

Team members will be exposed to a campus population where very few individuals will even be tested.  It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.

All the commissioners have to come to that realization.  They have to decide at what point does player safety outweigh fan entertainment because that “decision day” is coming.

The good news is the three groups that haven’t begun play have time on their side.  They can see the mistakes made by the other two leagues and put in policies and protocols that could avoid the same result.

Frankly, it’s not a matter of if a similar situation happens but when does it occur.  Here’s hoping that the powers that be are learning from these missteps and having a plan to combat it when it arrives.

If they don’t, look for a public, and possibly governmental outcry, to shut sports down especially if a player becomes deathly ill.  That’s the scenario no one wants to see come to fruition.

It all comes down to this one fact.  What price are leagues willing to pay to play.  Only time will tell.