No matter how badly everyone in the world right now could use the break from our lives that sports usually offers us, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Oh sure, there are some niche sports entertainment vehicles like WWE, boxing and UFC events that might start showing up on all of our channel guides over the next few months, but anyone hoping to take in the most popular team sports our country has to offer, particularly events put on by the NFL, NBA and MLB, had better be prepared to wait for at least 12 to 18 months for that to happen.
At least that’s what one leading scientist is saying right now per SI.com’s Stephanie Apstein.
Oh sure, you might have heard otherwise, but what you heard is likely from other people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about, which is basically most of the entire internet these days.
But Apstein’s interview with Dr. Zach Binney from Emory University paints a seriously bleak picture about the future of live sporting events in the U.S.
In fact, her report straight up blasts sports fans for needing a “reality check” and flat-out posits that “we will not have sports any time soon. And when we do, we will not attend the games.”
NFL, NBA and MLB Games Simply Can’t Go On Like Normal
Binney says fans won’t be allowed to attend sporting events until a COVID-19 vaccine is fully developed and widely distributed. That process is likely to take at least 12 to 18 months, and anything short of that extended timeframe would basically be a “medical miracle”.
Perhaps more troubling is that Binney doesn’t seem to believe that NFL, NBA and MLB teams playing in empty stadiums is all that feasible an option either.
“The idea of a quarantined sports league that can still go on sounds really good in theory,” Binney said. “But it’s a lot harder to pull off in practice than most people appreciate.”
In fact, just the process to quarantine everyone involved in the production of games would be a long and complicated journey that involved multiple rounds of testing and some serious planning efforts:
Before any of this can begin, every person who would have access to the facilities will need to be isolated separately for two weeks to ensure that no infection could enter. That’s players and coaches, athletic trainers and interpreters, reporters and broadcasters, plus housekeeping and security personnel. No one can come in or out. Food will have to be delivered. Hotel and stadium employees will have to be paid enough to compensate for their time away from their families. Everyone onsite will have to be tested multiple times during this initial period.
And that would just be the beginning of a long trek that would have to be perfectly managed by experts, one that couldn’t afford to leave any stone unturned and no accidents without ways to solve them.
And what about all the current supply chain issues around COVID-19 tests and other medical equipment?
Where would the players stay during the season?
What about the support staff?
Who would even pay for all of this?
‘A Biological Bomb’?
Of course, the other option isn’t all that appealing either. That’s the one where everyone just pushes their chips into the middle of the table and decides keeping sports going is worth way more to the U.S. than the lives that would be lost in doing so.
Binney believes that idea just doesn’t have any merit. After all, Italy’s tough time in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in that country was directly attributed to the so-called “biological bomb” soccer match that experts believe spread COVID-19 around more than any other factor.
“If people just decide to let it burn in most areas and we do lose a couple million people it’d probably be over by the fall,” Binney said. “You’d have football. You’d also have two million dead people.”
Binney believes two million deaths might seem like a smaller deal to some than it actually is.
“We’re really bad at dealing with big numbers,” Binney said. “That is a Super Bowl blown up by terrorists, killing every single person in the building, 24 times in six months. It’s 9/11 every day for 18 months.”
The Future Remains Unclear
Still, it at least remains possible that Binney and other like-minded experts haven’t thought about every single possibility just yet.
Indeed, if necessity is the mother of invention then there’s no better time than now for some forward-thinking sports fan to come up with an outside-the-box idea to save America’s biggest and best sports.
If that doesn’t happen, Binney says it could be a long while before the NFL, NBA and MLB return to action.
So, short of a radical innovation for sports while in quarantine, and the “biological bomb” being way too high in price, it looks like sports fans are in for a long wait when it comes to opening day for any team sport.