This weekend marked the return of the NHL and the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Other major league sports teams have already returned are or are making their plans to return. COVID-19 interrupted the NHL and the NBA, it stalled the return of baseball.
Sports is a huge part of our of our pastimes, we argue over it, we come together is moments of celebration and we play sports together. With the return of the NHL I invited a Humber College Radio Alumni to answer a few questions about his views on big league sports returning to our social circles.
Steve Kee is the host of the #Kee2Travel podcast, is the Director of External Communications at the Insurance Bureau of Canada – but more importantly for the purposes of #RedHeartBlueSign readers, he is a sports fans and a great observer of sports. Steve lives and breathes Toronto sports. I asked Steve five questions about the return to action of big-league sports.
The NHL, MLB, NBA are all coming back from a COVID induced break in the season. Who has managed this the best, the worst and why?
Steve Kee: Baseball has been a joke. Unnecessary travel is just a recipe for disaster. I’ll be surprised if the season ends. As for the best, I have to say the NHL. They chose Canadian hubs – areas with fewer cases than any of the major markets in North America.
Red Heart Blue Sign: Though I haven’t mentioned it, the MLS soccer has done a good job in their return. I’ve read a lot about the National Women’s Soccer League, they just wrapped up well run ‘Challenge Cup Tournament”. I agree with the comments about MLB, I have high hopes for the NHL ‘City Hub’ return to play.
What can North American sports leagues learn from European and English soccer leagues who have just wrapped up their seasons after pausing their seasons?
SK: Appropriate social distancing….no fans….and a commitment to safety. Also, the European markets seemed to have a head start on the recovery from Covid, something we are just starting to see trend better here in North America.
RHBS: They has a couple of situations that almost ended the comeback, but the teams and league prevailed. Our North American leagues will need to diligent and strict with the teams and the players if any of the big three will have a successful season.
After the Stanley Cup is (hopefully) handed out in October when can we expect to see hockey back? Will the league have to take a break until 2021?
SK: You can’t wait too long. So, if the league is back December 15 is that enough time for those players who have competed to recover. I imagine 2020-2021 will be a strange year with more injuries as a result of the starts and stops of this season.
RHBS: Can the league afford to have a shortened season in 2021? Don’t even get me started on the sham about the NHL Draft and a playoff team getting the #1 selection.
Then there will be football, how can the NFL or CFL possibly play in an empty stadium?
SK: They would dress the stadium like they have done for NHL and NBA. You shoot football for what’s on the field. I can see the NFL starting…because of the TV money…but can the CFL really justify these costs?
RHBS: It would be like the Argos playing The Rogers Centre (before BMP Field was built.
Which sports league may be in danger of not surviving 2020-2021?
SK: Of any, the CFL could be the one to die. They aren’t in the best of financial shape…period.
RHBS: I am I agreement here, if the CFL can’t pull off the planned Winnipeg hub city season this fall they are in trouble. Best case scenario is the league taking a year off. Worst is the league folds. If the CFL folds, does that mean the NFL can finally make a shot at a team in Toronto or Montreal?
Which Toronto team walks away with a championship this year? The Leafs, the Raptors or the Blue Jays?
SK: Optimist in me says all of the above. Pessimist says better luck next year.
RHBS: Of the Toronto pro teams, The Raptors have the best opportunity to win and recapture the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
My thanks to Steve for taking some time to assist with this week’s post. You can follow Steve on Twitter and Instagram at @Steve_Kee. If you love and miss travelling, follow Steve and his wife Cynthia on the #Kee2Travel podcast, https://www.buzzsprout.com/790535.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, it is the 296th post I have written for the blog since October 2011!
Stay safe, wash your hands and protect your social circles.