As governors and the federal government move to re-open businesses around the country after a month or more of shutdowns due to the coronavirus, sports leagues are lining up to get back to work. The NBA has been the most aggressive, originally agreeing to let players voluntarily back into facilities as early as this Friday before pushing that date back to May 8.
With states like Georgia and Texas moving forward with plan to re-open some to most of their businesses over the next week to two weeks, the NBA and MLB are planning their next steps, but trying to be cautious at the same time. The NBA's original plan began with the Atlanta Hawks, with Georgia the most aggressive at loosening restrictions. But, Hawks team members have said they want to proceed with caution and see how things play out before going all-in.
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The league agreed on Monday pushing back their original date, but it's clear they are hungry to get their players back to work and games back on the schedule, provided they can do it safely, whatever that means in a post-coronavirus world.
Similarly, Major League Baseball seems to be increasingly optimistic that most if not all of its games will be played this season. Mayors of a number of cities including Chicago and governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York have said they envision baseball this summer in their areas. As such, it seems likely baseball will be back as soon as they can work out the logistics.
Speaking of logistics, it is almost certain that neither league will play in front of fans when they do get started again. With social distancing measures expected to remain in place for the entire country for the foreseeable future, no one expects stadiums to be filled with spectators anytime soon.
But, with fans hungry for games and the leagues wanting to get them back on TV at the bare minimum, don't be surprised if the push intensifies in the coming weeks. Whether that means a limit on the number of venues, shortened seasons or modified playoff formats is anyone's guess at this point. No doubt it will be different, but with virtually everyone around the United States wanting to see at least a partial return to normalcy this summer, it looks like pro sports will be a big part of that equation.