PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – SEPTEMBER 17
By Leo Haggerty
WHERE ARE WE
We are starting to see the three professional sports leagues, all who chose to gear up and resume play, seeing the finish line that will culminate in a 2020 championship. Honestly, for the longest time, it didn’t even appear that there would be a single athletic event until at least the beginning of 2021 let alone have a playoff to decide a league champion.
So, how did all three leagues manage to go from the agony of defeat that caused a stoppage of play to the thrill of victory that meant completing an abbreviated season with playoffs? How about we take a couple of minutes to examine what has transpired, shall we?
Slowly, the leagues that postponed their campaigns began to make preparation to resume play. One salient fact was that each group had a different plan to restart their seasons and, for the most part, successfully.
The National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association embraced the “bubble” approach. The NHL went with the “double bubble” approach and divided into two groups with both locations north of the border in Canada. The Eastern Conference teams that were invited to compete went to Toronto. The Western Conference clubs that were selected went to Edmonton. The organizations that made it to the “Final Four” would stay in Western Canada to decide on who would hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The NBA went with the “single bubble” plan. All teams that qualified to play went to Florida with the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando being the host. Every game has been played, and will be played, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the duration of the playoffs.
Major League Baseball chose to modify its schedule. MLB let all 30 teams play at home. The change was that travel was severely curtailed. The Big Leagues was divided into three “pods” by geographic areas with 10 teams in each to limit possible exposure to Covid-19.
Even with the restricted travel, there were some hiccups in the plan. Some teams were forced to postpone games due to positive coronavirus test results. That may be the main reason that MLB is going to go to a “modified bubble” plan for the playoffs.
Four sites have been designated to host playoff games after the Wild Card round with no team having a home-field advantage. When the Division Series begins, the National League will play in Houston and Arlington. The American League will commence play in San Diego and Los Angeles.
The League Championships will be contested in San Diego in the AL and Arlington in the NL. The two survivors will meet in Arlington in the first neutral-site World Series.
The NCAA has tried to kickoff their 2000 collegiate football season with mixed results. The PAC 12 and The Big Ten chose to postpone their seasons with The Big Ten possibly reversing that decision. The other three Power Five conferences, along with some Group of Six conferences, have attempted to start with limited success. As of today, the Southeastern Conference has not played a game and the Atlantic Coast Conference and The Big 12 have seen numerous postponements due to coronavirus outbreaks.
There’s also reports that some institutions are discouraging athletes from getting tested unless they have extreme symptoms. That’s not good.
The National Football League started its 2020 regular season on time but with modifications. Some teams were banning fans from their stadiums while other were allowing extremely limited access to their supporters.
Also, the NFL may be fudging on their testing protocols. Teams that had multiple positive tests were later deemed to be “false positives” without giving a reason why the league determined to be bogus.
That makes you wonder if there is some “hanky-panky” going on with the NFL. Not a good look there either.
Well, there you have it. The up-to-date report on the landscape of sports in the United States.
Stayed tuned though. The athletic environment is morphing daily.