As pro sports inch towards reopening, students share thoughts

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After the coronavirus resulted in the closure of all non-essential operations earlier this year, including sports, governments are slowly beginning to ease restrictions. Due to the abrupt cancellation of many sports competitions, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), many fans had to settle for online video game competitions and replays of past sporting events. The cancellation of prestigious tournaments this year, like Wimbledon, heightened fears of a total shutdown in all sports competitions for years. Fans of European football and basketball saw their season halted in the final stretch, which is known to be the most intense. However, contrary to initial predictions, these competitions may not be over yet.

Recently, fans who have eagerly awaited a restart have been given hope that a return to normalcy may arrive in the foreseeable future. Baseball leagues in Asia, NASCAR, the German soccer league Bundesliga, and the English Premier League have all resumed. European soccer competitions and the NBA have also confirmed their return to action— under the condition that fans can not spectate in the stands. Most notably, in New Zealand, which recently announced that they had no cases of COVID-19 in the past three weeks, began to allow spectators to attend games and matches.

With the continuation of the English Premier League on June 17 under modified schedules and guidelines, soccer fans are also beginning to celebrate. Senior Kelvin Yip, a fan of English soccer team Manchester United, believes that soccer is a universal passion that has been sorely missed in its absence. “There are two parts to sports, watching and playing… playing sports gives you that challenge, adrenaline to push on. It trains you to improve to be creative and to be the best version of yourself,” Kelvin noted. Although Kelvin believed that the manner in which the reopening was conducted was “definitely a positive step towards progress,” he felt athletes and sports organizations should “use their platform to help out” with issues such as social justice, hunger and poverty. He also stressed the importance of “using testing methods to keep players safe and applying it to help local people test as well.”

Junior Ilyas Parra, a member of the Townsend Harris soccer team and supporter of Real Madrid, is also open to the idea of reintroducing sports. However, he acknowledges that precautions such as “maintaining social distancing guidelines, cleaning locker rooms, [and] no shaking hands before and after events” were needed. “Being able to watch professional players on TV is truly a blessing, all events should be free and broadcasted to be watched and enjoyed by fans at home,” he said. In addition, sophomore Angelina Kretz believes that the previous cancellation of sports and quarantine has really made her realize “how much I’ve taken for granted.”

At the same time, despite being optimistic and hopeful for a return to regular sports programming, sophomore Ethan Diep believes that safety is of the utmost priority and that the current caution held by sports organizations around the world is justified. “I don’t think this would permanently affect sports… [but] I feel that these sports leagues are just waiting until the threat is gone and eventually crowds would be able to… have the same entertainment experience that they once got before this pandemic,” Ethan said.

Overall, the possibility that sports action will continue from where it left off three months ago is becoming more real. Although these competitions won’t be the same and will have to be treated with caution, many students are delighted by the fact that they can see both their favorite athletes and teams compete. The past three months have been longer and more difficult than anticipated for many, but with the possibility of regularly scheduled sports events resuming in the near future, sports fans have a way to briefly escape these turbulent times. It is something that allows different fans across different competitions to rout for together, perhaps providing a sign for better times to come.