By Joshua Huff, sports editor
The empty, joyless days without sports could linger on until 2021, sports leaders and health experts told the Washington Post on Friday in a story by Adam Kilgore.
As the coronavirus continues its grip upon the nation, many people are bemoaning the loss of collegiate, high school and professional sports throughout the nation and the world. The pandemic has ripped away the remainder of high school spring sports in Alabama, halted the college winter sports postseason along with the spring sports season and canceled the seasons of all professional sports.
Even as the pandemic shutters the doors of the nation, the most optimistic among us believe that there is no way that stadiums will remain empty in the fall. Yet, even among those believers, uncertainty lingers.
“’My crystal ball is not just cloudy,’ Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said this past week. ‘It’s black.’”
Sports is a business and owners are eager to return to normalcy and provide a diversion to the public. However, the possibility that any major event returns this year seems to be more fool’s gold than reality. The vast majority of states have instituted statewide stay-at-home orders and many health expects have predicted that the peak of the coronavirus has yet to hit. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said this past week that a vaccine for the virus will not be ready before early 2021.
Even if the lingering effects of the virus start to abate as spring morphs into summer, experts have stated that reopening stadiums will be “among the last stages of lifting the pandemic-related restrictions. The first step would be letting people go back to work, with social distancing still in place. Travel restrictions would thaw. Only after those changes could authorities consider allowing stadiums to reopen,” Kilgore wrote.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott spoke to the Mercury News this past week and said that after reviewing several models on how the college football season would unfold, they found that the most optimist models show that training camp could begin on time and the most pessimistic show that there will be no season at all.
All this depends on how the coming months play out.
The best-case scenario is that social distancing guidelines and other measures are followed, which leads to a decrease in virus cases by May, Dean Winslow, an infectious-disease doctor at Stanford, told the Washington Post.
The worst-case scenario is that the virus abates then returns, much like the 1918 flu pandemic did when it returned in the fall of 1919.
“The public health and epidemiologists are saying, ‘The biggest tragedy we could have would be if we thing we’ve got a handle on this and we’re still going to have whatever the projection is — it may be 100,00 deaths — and we allow people to go back to normal everyday life and then infections happen again,'” Jared Evans, a senior researcher at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, told the Washington Post. “That kind of slow rollout back to normalcy is going to be something that’s difficult for everyone.”
How this effects high school sports in Alabama remains to be seen. The AHSAA All-Star week in July is still scheduled and there has been no word on what the state and the league will do as the pandemic plays out.
As with much in life, expect the worst and hope for the best seems to be the best course of action.