Sports leagues are slowly getting back to normal habits
Slowly but surely, sports leagues around the world are seeing a bit of a return to normal. Some sports, like tennis, have been back for a while; others are still trying to figure out how to get back to business.
Both the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) have modified seasons and are currently in action, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced earlier this month that it will have a 72-game 2020–21 season starting on Dec. 22.
The news comes just a month after the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship, which shows how much the league wants to get back to a regular schedule as much and as soon as possible.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is the next major sports league expected to announce its anticipated 2020–21 starting date, especially since the NBA has been a bit of a model for the league since the start of the pandemic.
With all those announcements and some sports already in action, it feels like the only thing missing in order to have everything happening just like before are the fans. Whether a league like the NBA intends to play a 72-game season or not, it’s really the fans in the stands that makes the biggest difference. However, policies to fight COVID-19 are in place for a reason, and it would be surprising to see the NBA or the NHL negotiate those rules at the start of their respective 2020–21 season. Things went well for both leagues when they got back to action for their 2019–20 playoffs, without fans.
In Europe, some places are back to allowing people in stadiums during soccer games, depending on the countries’ rules and leagues the soccer teams are in. Attendance has been varying in those countries for the past few weeks, but that’s still progress in terms of fan experience and business.
With the same idea, the NBA Golden State Warriors announced on Nov. 13 that they have submitted a plan to local officials and the state in order to have home games played in front of a 50 per cent filled crowd.
We’ll see what the next big move from a major sports league will be, especially in America, but it looks like their goal is to resume normal activities as soon as possible.