Memorial Day weekend isn't just the unofficial beginning of summer or a time to honor the men and women who gave their lives to support our country. It's also a time when sports begins its long summer of events. And there are some big ones we are missing.
While the Astros would have just finished up a series in Boston against the Red Sox heading home to face Oakland, and the Dynamo would have hosted Nashville at BBVA Compass Stadium, the marquee event of the weekend would have been the Indianapolis 500, held every year during Memorial Day weekend. And that's just the beginning.
Within the next two months, sports fans would have been enjoying Wimbeldon, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Tour Championship, never mind the baseball season, MLS and the playoffs for both the NHL and NBA, which are still under consideration. The NBA has said they are planning to re-launch in some format in late July. NASCAR races and other events are being pushed later in the summer, but it's tough to know when we will get sports back, with or without fans in the stands.
Holidays are a time for sports. From the NFL on Thanksgiving, NBA on Christmas, college football bowl games on New Year's Day and the tennis U.S. Open during July 4, Americans take time off to relax and sports often factors into that equation. Not this year. Not exactly anyway.
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It is nearly a foregone conclusion that spectators will not be allowed at live events in 2020. There is some faint hope hanging on the possibility of a vaccine, but that is unlikely. As a result, sports will be changed dramatically when and if they return. No more screaming fans in the stands. And no more money from them as a result.
Concert and fine arts productions are scrambling to save their seasons assuming it will be this fall or more likely January before they can pick up again. Yet, the fervent need for sports is putting tremendous pressure on leagues to get back to business, whether that is a good idea or not.
Given the extent of the coronavirus, the now nearly 100,000 deaths and countless more infected — with rates continuing to rise despite state reopening efforts — it is simply foolish to expect sports to be anything other than a hopeful distraction. If, and it's a serious if, they can get back to playing, it could be a legitimate distraction, but, for now, it's nothing more than a rumor. A whisper.
Which is ironic given the normal roar of the crowds. And with COVID-19 continuing its rampage, it's hard to imagine any more holidays this year filled with the call of beer vendors and the intensity of a home crowd. If we are lucky, we might get a crack of a bat or the sound of sneakers squeaking on hardwood. Even that isn't a given and the holidays feel a little less exciting as a result.