As much of the world tests the waters of a return to daily life, the sports world still has a ways to go. Here’s a summary of what’s going on and what might be going on the nearish future.
- After almost pulling off a fight night on an Indian reservation last month, Dana White and the UFC are set to deliver the first live sports action in the US since pandemic restrictions went into place. UFC 249 will take place tomorrow night in Jacksonville, featuring a lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
- Some Asian baseball leagues have started up again, with Taiwan blending mannequin fans alongside socially distanced spectators. South Korea’s KBO is back in action–sans fans–and has inked a deal with ESPN to broadcast stateside. I haven’t had a chance to tune-in yet, but it sounds like many are, despite the time difference. My good friend Dr. Ryan Kim says I should support the Kiwoom Heroes, so I will.
- Germany’s Bundesliga is planning on getting back to action on May 16. Per They’ve settled on a maximum of 322 people present for matches, per Deutsche Welle, “The figures include not only players, coaches and referees, but also journalists (though press conferences will be conducted virtually), doping-control officers, stewards, emergency services, groundskeepers and ball boys and girls. Given Germany’s ban on large-scale social events until the end of August, there is no way fans will be allowed in.”
- Motorsports: NASCAR returns on May 17th at Darlington, with three more races scheduled by the end of may. IndyCar will start their season June 6th at Texas Motor Speedway. Formula 1 is due back with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5th, and will have four more European races before heading to Asia. I don’t expect fans at any of these in the near term.
- The PGA resumes on June 11th with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial. The organization announced that the first four events will be without fans, with decisions on future events to come. The Open Championship has been called off.
- US pro leagues are inching back to practice, although we are still essentially in the dark about a return to competition. Four MLS teams began practices this week. NBA practice facilities are open today in states where doing so doesn’t contradict government orders. NFL players could return to team facilities as early as May 15. The NHL hopes to resume practice by the end of the month. MLB is still targeting July for the start of the season, with a proposal expected within the week.
- Finally, in what may turn out to be a major opportunity for the organization, The Premier Lacrosse League is replacing its season with a 16 day quarantined tournament, starting on July 25th. Various NBC networks will cover all the games, filling in some of the gaps from cancelled Olympic programming.