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Monday, April 22, 2024

Hitting the sports restart button is still a risky endeavor

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Like all Americans, I now spend an inordinate amount of time pondering when life will return to what we considered to be normal before the pandemic that has put up serious roadblocks in our daily lives. While sports is a viable fabric of our culture, we realize that public health supersedes athletic contests, and as the postponements and cancellations of sporting events mount up, I try to concentrate on more important things, such as following the advice of medical experts, keeping tabs on those I love and care about, and not worrying about when sporting leagues will resume.

Wanting all whose income is linked to sports to be made whole again as soon as possible is a constant concern, but beyond that it does not matter, as we’ll get through this and the games will resume.

Recently, both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have proclaimed they’d like to be back on track in May and June respectively, and while that is indeed music to my old ears, is it even realistic considering the continued uncertainty that cloaks our country? How can anyone predict the point at which it will be deemed safe again to sit in a packed stadium and enjoy a hot dog as you scrutinize the officiating and cheer on your favorite team?

The obvious answer is they can’t make the proclamation that the coast is clear, and we really shouldn’t expect them to. While every business in the country is trying to stop the bleeding associated with lost revenue, it’s more than risky at this juncture to draw a line in the sand and determine just when the venues will reopen allowing games to resume and re-tap the streams of money that will follow.

The pessimistic ones will look at the option of playing without fans in attendance to maintain their television agreements, but that too is a far cry from reality even though it would provide much needed entertainment at a time when sports fans are crying out for it.

Locally, the Indianapolis Colts can survive a condensed draft that will undoubtedly be held remotely, but will everything we are currently juggling in our quest to return to a normal life impact the organized team activities, training camp, preseason games and beyond? 

Recently, in what had to be an agonizing, yet logical decision, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway officially rescheduled the Indy 500 to an alternate date of Aug. 23. While that is some five months away, the original July 4 weekend in which they will host an IndyCar/NASCAR double header was left unchanged. While that date could certainly be reshuffled, IMS seems firm in its assessment that it will be able to host a crowd that holiday weekend. While I’m hopeful it will transpire as scheduled, is the plan overzealous at this juncture? Who knows.

Granted, they must have a business model in place, and while the leadership making the call is competent, I still wonder if it’s realistic.

No matter how one slices the pie of these uncertain times we’re living in, nobody really knows when we can safely congregate and attend large scale sporting events. Do I long for the month of May and all it has to offer in terms of pomp and pagentry? Heck, yes.

However, I’m also wise enough that everything concerning sports is written in pencil, and can be easily erased. Let’s hope it will all be much sooner than later, but if things get pushed out further or even canceled, well that’s just fine too. In closing, and as I said last time, stay safe and be healthy. It’s all we need to worry about and remember, the whole sports thing will take care of itself in due time.

Danny Bridges, who is adjusting to hibernation and reruns of classic sporting events just fine, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or bridgeshd@aol.com.

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