Apr 7, 2020 - Sports

No one knows when the coronavirus sports shutdown will end

Data: Morning Consult National Tracking Poll of 1,512 self-reported sports fans, April 3-5, 2020; MOE ± 3%; Chart: Axios Visuals

It's been 26 days since the sports world effectively shuttered, and fans are eager to start watching games again, but not quite as eager to attend them.

The state of play: According to a new Morning Consult poll, 51% of fans think live sports will return between June and September, while only 8% think the void will bleed into 2021.

  • Yes, but: Many of those same fans are wary of how long it will take for them to feel comfortable attending those games, with 35% saying they'd need until at least October — and 22% saying they'd need until next year.
Data: Morning Consult National Tracking Poll of 1,512 self-reported sports fans, April 3-5, 2020; MOE ± 3%; Chart: Axios Visuals

What the leagues are saying: Until testing increases and infection and death rates drastically decrease, leagues won't be working on much more than conjecture. Still, here's the latest:

Domestic:

  • MLB: Sources tell Axios that MLB is deliberating on the following dates: Spring Training restarts June 15, season begins without fans July 1, fans return Aug. 1. There's also another crazy plan where all 30 teams would isolate themselves in Arizona and play fan-less games starting in May.
  • PGA: Under a new proposed plan, the PGA Championship will be held in early August, the U.S. Open will be held in mid-September and the Masters — originally scheduled for this week — will be held Nov. 12–15.
  • NBA: Players like Danny Green remain optimistic ("We're for sure gonna have a season, so all the things you see on the news, don't believe it"), while insiders like Brian Windhorst sing a different tune ("The pessimism is really growing").
  • NHL: The league has reportedly tossed around the idea of finishing the season and postseason in North Dakota.
  • MLS: No official updates since March 19, when the suspension was extended to May 10 based on the CDC's ban of large gatherings.
  • UFC: President Dana White said that he's close to a deal to stage fights on a private island. Fighters would arrive via private plane, presumably with coronavirus tests before arriving.

Abroad:

  • Premier League: They hope to complete the season in a concentrated timeline across June and July by quarantining clubs and playing all matches on a handful of fields.
  • KBO: Korea's top baseball league is ahead of the pack, playing intrasquad scrimmages and targeting April 20 for a fan-less start to the regular season.
  • NPB: Japan's top baseball league was tracking towards the same timeline as the KBO, but pressed pause when three players tested positive in late-March.

The bottom line: Whether your favorite league is offering a pessimistic or optimistic update, I recommend taking everything with approximately 6,500 grains of salt. In the immortal words of Ygritte: "We know nothing, Jon Snow."

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