Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 12: A view outside of TD Garden, the venue that hosts the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics on March 12, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. It has been announced that NBA and NHL seasons have been suspended due to COVID-19 with hopes of returning later in the spring. The NBA, NHL, NCAA and MLB have all announced cancellations or postponements of events because of the virus. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth,

As the scope of the COVID-19 crisis becomes more well known, public events continue to get pushed further and further back. Of course, sporting events among the most talked about of those cancelations and postponements.

It’s now been 16 days since the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings wrapped up their March 11 game at the Staples Center, which ended up being the final professional sporting event in North America before the shutdown.

When it became apparent that the stoppage would not be a short-term issue, the creativity started to kick in. LeBron James proposed play-in games leading up to a full postseason. There was a proposed NHL playoff format that consisted of a league-wide tournament. Baseball super agent Scott Boras is reportedly pushing for an MLB season that would conclude on Christmas.

HOUSTON, TX – JUNE 19: Agent Scott Boras speaks with the media after the Houston Astros signed first overall draft pick Mark Appel to the team prior to the start of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 19, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The one thing most of these ideas have in common? Seasons would conclude well past their originally scheduled endings. And while getting sports back as soon as it is safe to do so feels like the right play, there is also something to be said for getting sports back…to normal.

By pushing basketball and hockey into August, and baseball into December, leagues would not only be altering the ends of their 2020 season, but their starts in 2021 as well.

For instance, if basketball wanted to play into August, but not impact the 2020-2021 season, their entire offseason would have to be condensed to six to eight weeks. That not only include free agency, coaching changes, possibly the draft, training camp, and a preseason, but player rest and adjustments as well.

SAITAMA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 08: Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Adam Silver speaks during a press conference prior to the preseason game between Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors at Saitama Super Arena on October 08, 2019 in Saitama, Japan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, under Scott Boras’ plan for baseball, teams that are in the playoffs could have just a month between the end of their 2020 season and pitchers and catchers reporting in 2021.

No matter when they’re restarted, the 2020 seasons for baseball, basketball, and hockey will be unusual and contain one-of-a-kind questions. That’s not just limited to the format either.

Say that the NBA resumes play in July, with the Brooklyn Nets as a playoff team. The Nets are under .500 this season- in big part because their key offseason signing Kevin Durant – hasn’t played due to an Achilles injury he suffered in the NBA Finals last summer. If the NBA season had gone on as planned, there is no shot Durant would have been available for the playoffs.

However, if those games that were supposed to happen in mid-April take place in the beginning of July, Durant may potentially be available. Would he be allowed to play? After all, he is healthy and under contract. The NBA could set a limit of regular season games that a player had to be active for them to be eligible for the playoffs, but the Player’s Association likely wouldn’t respond kindly to a healthy player under contract being held out by the league.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 18: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks during their game at Barclays Center on January 18, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

To be fair, I should include the sport of football in this line of thought, although they are a unique case in that their 2020 season doesn’t begin in earnest until Training Camp in late July. That may be four months away, but four months feels like four decades right now, so it is hard to predict what the world will look like then.

If the coronavirus threat has subsided, and some believe it could with warmer weather, they could have a shot at a normal season, minus perhaps losing OTAs and/or being forced to hold closed Training Camp practices. However, it’s just as likely that positive turn in relation to the virus isn’t the case, which would put them in the same spot baseball is in right now. A shortened season may be ok, but could you push the Super Bowl back into March or maybe even April?

Of course, a lot of this hinges on when new cases start to decrease, crowd size restrictions are eliminated, and things start getting back to normal outside of the sports world. At the time being, those projections seem grim at best.

The NHL has postponed a number of events well into June, which doesn’t bode well for games being played during that time.

The NBA continues to have players test positive for COVID-19, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters on Friday that plans for the season to be resumed are “being brainstormed and bantered about at a 10,000-foot view,” and that he expects the league to “dial into details about it when some possible scenarios become more clear.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 23: Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball meanwhile released a new set of qualifications Friday (via Jeff Passan) for when they will return to play. They include the ability to play in front of crowds (even if it is at neutral site stadiums), no travel restrictions, and the medical community confirming  games would pose a health risk ‘to teams or fans.’ Right now, those qualifications hardly feel on the horizon, but more like things of a distant future.

Of course, money is always a factor, and owners are losing it quickly with sports and their other various business interests on pause. And it’s also not only them. Those employed by teams, stadiums, etc. want to get back to work as well. A jump-start resumption with shorted and/or delayed seasons may not take into account the impact on teams, players, and fans if it helps the bottom line. Whether is should or not is a separate but perhaps even more important question.

At this point, those in the sports world – from team executives, to players, to fans – need to ask themselves the following question; Do you want to see messy partial seasons in 2020 and 2021? Or shut things down for the time being, and pick back up like normal next year?

Yes I will admit, canceling sports for an entire year does sound scary. But if everybody does their part, things could return back to normal in time for NFL season to begin. If not, there’s a real chance the next live sporting event we could see is Opening Day…in 2021.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at

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