We have all had to find ways of responding to the covid pandemic and sports is no different. Apart from the financial implications of not playing, however, sports had a further responsibility, to entertain a hungry public and boost morale during a dark and stressful time. It wasn’t easy for anyone but in most cases, the sports did go on.
The National Women’s Soccer League, the NWSL was one of the unfortunate leagues that had to be mostly postponed last season due to the adverse effects of the COVID pandemic. Unlike their male counterparts, the female game couldn’t find a way to continue the league due to government restrictions and other factors such as ground availability. But they did manage to fit one tournament in early doors.
As the coronavirus pandemic was just kicking off last summer, an NWSL tournament was arranged in Utah. The tournament comprised 23 games and wasn’t easy to pull off. But it was successfully completed and without any cause for alarm or concern. It’s just as well really because they had to sit on the sidelines for the coming months.
One of the success stories of the pandemic sporting season has been football, which has managed to coordinate an entire season of football without incident. Although it sounds straightforward it is anything but, however, the game didn’t benefit from the timing – the pandemic started to take hold as the season ended giving them plenty of time to plan.
This they did and did it well so it seems. Over the summer months of 2020, many video calls took place to plan the season out carefully. Sacrifices had to be made, things like the preseason hall of fame. However, no games were lost during the season and when government restrictions changed some fans were even allowed back into the stadiums.
The NHL has a reputation for being a hard league, you only have to look at the Best Fights in NHL History to see that this league knows how to fight. It certainly did fight in the 20/21 season to keep its league going. Firstly, NHL teams flew to Canada to take part in a round-robin which ended with the Stanley Cup. They all stayed in sporting bubbles.
Throughout much of the pandemic hockey season, there were concerns about coronavirus cases, but none came to light. This is because the plates and staff in the NHL teams fought for their right to carry on with the season. Their dedication was so great that some players were away from home for up to two months.
Like most major league sports the MLB had to somehow adapt to the ever-changing nature of the virus and changing government rules. It seems the MLB wasn’t quite as dedicated or savvy when it came to planning as they fell foul of the pandemic a few times and games had to be called off or canceled. Nevertheless, the World Series still took place.
However, some of the ways the MLB responded were quite innovative. They had to improvise a universal DH, expand playoffs and make some regional schedules. There also had to be new locations for games to be played on, neutral sites, and sporting bubbles were also made.
If any major league sport was going to be affected by the pandemic it was going to be basketball. The game is played at high intensity on a small court, there is a lot of contact and airborne water droplets in the form of sweat – ideal conditions for the coronavirus to spread.
That is why the NBA effectively closed its game down when the pandemic arrived, but with a bit of savvy engineering, it wasn’t long before they found a way to play. The answer was sporting bubbles and neutral venues at Disney World. Some games were still postponed here and there, but on the whole, the season played out successfully.
The Covid Pandemic hit the world hard, but it didn’t hit it hard enough to make people consider closing things down and shutting them up completely. There was always a sliver of light, a small chance that sports could be brought back and made viable again. This was as important to the viewing public as it was to the sports in terms of revenues.
Not every sport manages to find a way through the Covid Pandemic unscathed, the NWSL, for instance, barely even got off the ground. On the other hand, the NFL was well planned and innovative, it was able to play out an entire season as if nothing happened, except for the cardboard cutouts on the stands.