No one-size-fits-all solution for returning to the game, but other countries offer lessons


Another week, one step closer to having no idea the next week. There are signs that some sort of Stockholm syndrome has taken hold in our industry – every business, essential or not essential – plans their lives after COVID-19, but because most media do not have journalists assigned, for example, to the store at the end of your street, no one deforms. But woe to any sports league that turns out to be discussing options for returning. The nerve.

To the best of my knowledge, the public health care system has not been damaged by baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who holds teleconferences with the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Or Adam Silver or Gary Bettman investigating and discussing concepts aimed at concluding their seasons. Or Randy Ambrosie saying that the CFL may be starting Labor Day. Maybe I missed it … but do people covering other beats get up on their horse every time the word gets out on the things they cover when discussing post-pandemic plans? I mean, apart from the UFC or the Belarusian Premier League, there is no sports league that has said to hell with it. Keep the cursed bodies away. And the UFC abandoned its plan to hold a card on territorial lands this weekend when Disney and ESPN acquiesced in political pressure in California.

(If only ESPN also disconnected this H-O-R-S-E competition. What was that garbage?)

Like I said last week Writers block: I get it. You’re awake. I woke up. We are all awake. Nobody wants someone to die …

So it’s going to be another week to look at patterns and projections, and try to find a balance between overcoming a pandemic and having something to turn around when it’s done. It will be another week of people saying “this plan is bad” or “this plan is good” or “let’s not plan anything because the world is going to end” after they warn you saying “we” I have never seen anything like this before. “Because there is nothing else to write or speak and, as Aristotle said (or was it Socrates Brito): nature abhors a vacuum.

From my perspective, there could be lessons to be learned from other countries and leagues that have attempted or are trying to restart because they were the first affected by this pandemic. It’s solid. Caution? In most cases, these countries are smaller in terms of geography and population than the United States – let’s be clear: here we are on the side when it comes to sports and entertainment in North America; without the United States acting together, it doesn’t matter – and they have different systems for providing health care. Nor do they have a turnip, unlike the United States.

The Chinese Basketball Association has had a stammered response over and over again to the pandemic. It is sort of expected to restart in May, but keep an eye out for indications this weekend that a second wave of the new coronavirus may be developing in the country. The Taiwan Super League plays its basketball games in a centralized training center with only teams, referees, official goal scorers and the media. No more than 100 people are allowed to enter the establishment at the same time, and Axios reports, however, that no tests are done on site, each player has their temperature checked at the entrance. Any player with a temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be refused entry. Remember: Taiwan, a country of 24 million people, has had six deaths from coronaviruses. Japan is probably a better case study … and that is not cause for optimism. To say that the Summer Olympics were a date, to no longer be able to say with certainty that they will be held in 2021, until putting the plans of the Nippon Professional Baseball League on hold to start playing this month – caution is always required. word. The Korean Baseball Association hopes to play exhibition games next week and organize a regular season of 144 games.

Then there is Europe.

There are many estimates that the UK will end up having the highest number of COVID-19 casualties on this continent, so it will be fascinating to see what will come out of Friday’s teleconference with Premier League bosses. ESPN reports that the Premier League and English Football League teams are targeting June 6 as the date for resuming competition behind closed doors, with three weeks of training scheduled to start on May 16. It is clear that the declared intention of the Bundesliga to play at the beginning of next month – the clubs of the two main divisions of German football have been practicing for two weeks since obtaining authorization from the German government – has put pressure on d ‘other leagues dependent on television revenues. Spanish La Liga’s Real Sociedad intends to resume training on Tuesday after the government of that country lifted some restrictions on workers, to bow before pressure from Sports Minister Irene Lozano of the country, and announce that they were delaying these plans and would wait further. government advice.

Again: there are huge national and regional differences surrounding all of these cases which suggest that there is no single answer. I remain skeptical that each North American professional league will be able to complete its playoffs, let alone their regular season. But I am also confident that, just as public health officials will take the initiative in providing guidance to other sectors on reopening, the same goes for the ball in their court when it comes to sport. What you don’t want is what happened in Australia this weekend: the National Rugby League announced a comeback on May 28; the federal sports minister called it “a little ambitious”. Stay away. Follow the example of the evidence. This is what NBA commissioner Silver told US President Donald Trump that the commissioners wanted to do. That’s how it should be, right?


• I found this photo of a hitter, catcher and referee wearing masks during the 1918 flu pandemic and wondered how many sportswear companies have prototypes with swooshes , UA and three tapes ready to go…

• It was a brutal week for hockey: Colby Cave, Pat Stapleton, Tom Webster and John Hughes, a tough guy, all died. I remember a visit that Stapleton and Ken Dryden paid to our Sportsnet 590 / The fan studios as part of a lecture tour surrounding the 1972 summit series, and the pleasure that Stapleton experienced in stirring up suspicion that he still had or at least knew the puck from that last game in Moscow when Paul Henderson scored the goal. Team Canada teammate Brad Park told us last week that everyone on the team knew Stapleton had the puck. Park remembers very well the white haired defender who was bending over to pick it up – and that nobody on the team cared much: “We told him to sell it or something, if he wanted to.”

• Funny line from old friend Tim Kurkjian’s ESPN this weekend, which revealed that he had been told that one of the options being considered by the MLB to return was to play in Japan. “I couldn’t even report it, it was so ridiculous,” he said. “And yet, in the end, I think something ridiculous is how we are going to play the season, if we play the season. “


The Chicago Bulls ended up hiring Arturas Karnisovas as the new executive vice-president of basketball operations after the Toronto Raptors refused to give them permission to speak to general manager Bobby Webster, and I guess the continuing lack of news about the Raptors long-term long-term plans for their front office – including head coach Nick Nurse – will cause even more concern among fans if the pandemic continues and ultimately kills the 2019-2020 season . I’m not sure it is, however. First of all, I think we’ve all seen enough to know that Larry Tanenbaum and Masai Ujiri have a pretty good grasp of things, including their own relationship, and there’s something special about the culture of this place. yelling, “All in due time. Second, how can we not know that discussions have not taken place in one way or another? I guess the Raptors’ front office is smart enough to realize that at a time when the game is closed and players are planning to lose wages, distributing multi-year extensions to executives requires a little more than the usual delicacy. This need for delicacy becomes even more pronounced the more the NBA does without games…

Jeff Blair welcomes Writers Bloc with Stephen Brunt and Richard Deitsch from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. AND on Sportsnet 590 / The Fan. You can also hear us live on the @Sportsnet app here, or tell Google or Alexa to “play Sportsnet 590”. Rate, review and subscribe to our podcast,


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here