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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's pro sports leagues sputtered back to life in 2020 with bubbles, comprehensive testing programs and a host of other changes that still seem unimaginable after the fact.

The state of play: The leagues succeeded because they have enormous wealth and were operating mostly in "salvage the season" mode — but now comes the hard part: Figuring out how to do it again — this time from an even worse financial position and amid a third coronavirus wave.

The state of play: If 2020 had been a normal year, the NBA and NHL would already be in the midst of their 2021 campaigns. Instead, they don't even know when they'll start.

  • MLB, which nearly canceled its season in July as owners and players bickered over money, is likely headed for another brutal labor fight this winter.

And don't forget about the many other leagues in this country that are hoping to have a season next year, all while trying to recover from lost revenue and adjust to new realities.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Oxford University says its coronavirus vaccine is up to 90% effective

A scientist working during at the Oxford Vaccine Group's laboratory facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, in June. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The University of Oxford announced Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine it's developed with AstraZeneca is 70.4% effective in preventing people from developing symptoms, per interim data from Phase 3 trials.

Why it matters: The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is shown to work in different age groups and can be stored at fridge temperature. It is much cheaper than other vaccines in development and is part of the global COVAX initiative, designed to ensure doses go where they're most needed.

In photos: Americans wait at food banks before Thanksgiving

Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site in Clermont, Fla., Nov. 21. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Thousands of Americans waited in long lines at food banks in the week before Thanksgiving to pick up turkeys, canned goods, broccoli and other vegetables.

Why it matters: As the holiday season approaches, families across the U.S. are in need of food assistance due to chronic unemployment and economic hardship caused by COVID-19 — and many food pantries already served an unprecedented number of people this spring.

10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

California governor and family in quarantine after coronavirus exposure

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted late Sunday that he and his family are quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19.

Details: Newsom said they learned Friday that three of his children had come into contact with a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the coronavirus. "Thankfully, the entire family tested negative today," Newsom said.