Is 2020 over yet?
With continuing issues caused by the second wave of COVID-19 cases, the sports world may be in serious jeopardy despite many return-to-play programs underway. The NBA, NHL, and MLB have all begun their process but we’ve seen positive tests come out of all three sports in recent weeks. The Tampa Bay Lightning had multiple players and staff members just return to the facility this week following a string of positive tests.
Now, we’re seeing the development of big name MLB players opting out of the shortened 2020 seasons due to concerns over the virus and their unwillingness to risk their health or the health of their loved ones - and understandably so.
Most recently, it was former Tampa Bay Ray pitcher David Price who said he would not suit up for the Los Angeles Dodgers this year.
Now we get word that the NFL is exploring their options as far as an “opt-out” program for NFL players who don’t feel the risk is worth the reward;
The NFL and NFLPA also are working on the rules that would govern any players' decisions to opt out of playing the upcoming season.— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) July 3, 2020
Players have been vocal on both sides of the argument, displaying a desire to return and play in spite of the potential risk of contracting COVID-19, while others - like star New Orleans Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins - who expressed his concerns and said he “wouldn’t be comfortable returning until the COVID-19 threat was eliminated.”
Don Davis - NFLPA Senior Director of Players Affairs, told Albert Breer, “We have 1,900 members and not all your 1,900 members are going to be comfortable. You all have to make that decision, as a grown man.”
We may see a situation where many players return in 2020 and play as if everything is normal but - as we’ve seen in the MLB, now - there may be a few teams that will take the field without prominent names due to an opt-out clause that can be enforced. At a time like this, it would be great to see sports return and give people a distraction, an escape from the tolls this year has taken. At the same time, we can’t expect players to be forced into a situation they’re uncomfortable with and ask them to potentially risk their lives or the lives of their families just for the sake of entertainment.
This is certainly going to be something to keep an eye on moving forward as the NFL and NFLPA will continue to work together to come up with the best plan possible for the players, the team staffs, and the fans in this grueling year.