While the NFL prepares to bring coaches and players back to practice facilities, in preparation for the regular season that is still months away, the other major leagues in American sports are still trying to figure out how to resume their seasons, and it has been a complicated process.
The NFL has had the good fortune of being in their offseason. Not only has it had a comparatively very minor effect on their calendar, they will also have the opportunity to observe how these other leagues phase themselves back into play, not only to see how they go about doing it, but also, quite simply, to see whether or not they fail.
The most contentious return to play so far has been the MLB, and that is in large part because they didn’t even start their regular season by the time the pandemic shut sports down. The league and the players are currently going back and forth about how many games will be played and what players will be paid, and the divide has been turning baseball fans off.
The NHL’s plan is to proceed immediately to an expanded postseason consisting of 24 teams, beginning with a round-robin style qualifying stage, and they intend to host these games in two hub cities, which are yet to be determined.
These plans for the NHL were jointly discussed between the league and their players’ union, including five active players, with the joint goal of figuring out some equitable way to complete the 2019-2020 season and crown a champion.
Meanwhile, the NBA is looking to hold a vote about how to proceed later this week, where they are expected to approve a plan to resume the season centered in Orlando. It’s not completely defined yet, but there may involve regular season play-in games to qualify for the postseason rather than completing a full regular season schedule.
There are, however, multiple other plans still being considered, and plans for the MLB and NHL remain in flux. Once they do get underway, it will help illustrate to the NFL what their own options are when it comes to resumption of play.
For the time being, they are operating under the belief that they will be able to proceed without significant interruption, with a full training camp, preseason, regular season, and postseason, and teams hosting their games in their own home stadiums.
While there is still so much up in the air, at least we’re finally talking about sports coming back. The 2020 seasons for most leagues will forever be marked, but there is still hope that the NFL season will be virtually untouched—other than perhaps with the absence of fans, and some extra precautions taken.