With everything that is going on in the world, it has been easy to lose track of time. It has now been over a year since the sports world took a turn for the ages, and it still has not been reshaped to normalcy. On March 11, 2020, the NBA season was put on hold after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, no one had an understanding of what having COVID-19 truly meant for Gobert. Regardless, the NBA was the first professional sports league to suspend all activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. None of the players or the fans could predict when basketball would resume. Some people probably thought just a few weeks, while most probably saw this suspension as indefinite.
It’s remarkable that it has been over a year since the sports world was put on pause. While health and safety are clearly the No. 1 concern, the loss of sports for many months made fans appreciate the games they love to watch even more. The four major sports leagues have all resumed action in different fashions, attempting to keep everyone as safe as possible while guiding players through intense protocols. The NBA was at least able to wrap up last year’s season because the teams were in an isolated bubble. MLB teams were also able to get through their shortened season without too many hurdles along the way.
The difference between watching games on television and in person has always been a fun topic to discuss. Some fans prefer the noise and atmosphere, while others prefer comfort at home. But the difference between watching a game on television with fans compared to without fans is an interesting subject to consider. Watching games, specifically NBA and NFL games, without fans on television can be unfulfilling without the crowd reaction to get you even more into the game. Pumping in fake crowd noise can only do so much in terms of making the people at home envision the normal experience at any venue.
A small percentage of attendance in the stands is better than absolutely nobody being able to attend games. While there will not be sellout crowds anytime soon, it is a positive sign that 17 NBA teams are allowing a portion of fans to enter the arenas. More and more teams are expecting to permit a small capacity of fans as the season heads toward the home stretch. The playoff scene will be even more exciting now that there can be some live noise involved with the gameplay.
The most encouraging news recently came out of Texas when the Rangers announced they will be having 100% capacity for Opening Day this spring. They likely will not sell out because of the risk it involves and the fact that not everyone is vaccinated yet. Nonetheless if everything goes smoothly in Texas, it could serve as a blueprint for other sports franchises. Hopefully, one year from now, we can say that everything in the sports world is back to its original form.