In February, everyone was living a normal life. They were stressed about how to do homework while still attending sporting events on the weekends. Maybe Ursuline students were thinking of who they were going to take to Sadie’s, or how they were going to pass the math final. But then March came. Suddenly spring break turned into a two-week break and events started getting canceled. While Texas began to shut down, sports around the world began to take a hit. On March 11th and 12th our nation’s only escape began to collapse. The NBA announced plans to suspend their seasons play, setting the domino effect in place. In the next two days MLB suspended play, Masters suspended play, NHL suspended play and NCAA canceled all championships including March Madness.
For months, the entire nation mourned the loss of live sports. ESPN played past games, of which the ending was already spoiled. There was no suspense, no game winning shots, nothing that ran the heart rate up hoping the home team would pull through. Instead humanity was stuck in a repetitive dark hole of re-run sports.
On June 4th, a light came from the darkness. NBA announced plans to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams. Teams were to fly to Orlando on July 7th, three weeks before the restart of the season. This allowed time for players to quarantine before the start of the season. Players stayed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The Disney complex created what would become known as the “bubble”. Players could not leave the “bubble” unless they had an excused absence. No-one could enter or exit the complex without verification. On top of that precaution, the NBA also planned to test players regularly. If a player was to get Covid, anyone around them for more than 15 minutes would be tested again. The infected player would quarantine for two to three weeks and then test negative twice before returning to the court.
The start of the season began, and Mav’s fans were glued to the screen hoping Luka would rally their team to victory. When the players were not on the court, they wore masks. As another precaution to Covid, there were no group Gatorade stations like before. Although no fans were allowed in the stadium, there were digital versions of fans in seats.
The games provided the distraction the country needed. During the play-offs, Luka made a game winning 3-point shot saving the Mav’s from elimination. The main news the next day was not about masks or hand sanitizer’s, it was about the 3-point shot that saved the Mavs.
Lightning struck again when the MLB announced plans to return with a shortened 60 game season. These plans included that no fans would be allowed in stadiums. Celebratory contact was illegal, players and team members must be separated by 6 feet. There was to be no chewing or spitting of sunflower seeds and baseballs would be discarded after they had been touched by several players. Off the field players would be tested for COVID-19 multiple times a week and have their temperature taken different times throughout the day.
It was not a normal return. It was definitely cleaner, not the usual stadiums filled with thousands of people you did not know with peanuts and sunflowers scattering the floor. There would be no players jumping on top of eachother when someone scored a homerun. But it was something.
As more and more information comes out about this virus, the people in charge of large event gathering can more easily re-create the experiences we once took for granted. The return of sports are anything but customary to the sporting environment we once knew, but the comeback provides a sense of normalcy to a world that is anything but normal.