The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented shutdown of worldwide sports. Big events like March Madness got canceled outright and others, like the Indianapolis 500 and Masters, are postponed until later in 2020. When the worst of the pandemic passes and sports return, athletes won’t be the same as they were before the coronavirus pandemic. One effect of the “new normal”: Pro athletes will have to change their habits.
The sports shutdown caused by COVID-19
The shutdown of American sports began in the middle of March. First, the NBA suspended its season indefinitely after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. When the league announced it was pausing the season, it began what was essentially a domino effect for other sports leagues in the U.S. and beyond.
Within days of the NBA’s announcement, the NHL also suspended its season; MLB canceled the remainder of Spring Training and delayed the start of its regular season, and the NCAA announced men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would not occur. In the subsequent weeks, the pandemic affected nearly all other major events.
When will sports return and how?
The big question is when sports will return and how they will be contested. A best-case scenario is for sports to return this summer. But if they do, it is likely that fans won’t be able to attend.
The PGA announced its plan to resume its tour in mid-June. But a summer return isn’t set in stone for any sports at this point. It is even possible that college football and NFL seasons could be delayed if the pandemic is still around toward the beginning of the fall.
The Masters has been postponed from its usual April dates, tentatively rescheduled for November. But that vaunted tournament may not be able to take place at that point. MLB is discussing possibly playing its games in empty Spring Training stadiums in Arizona to minimize the potential of players and other personnel contracting COVID-19.
Habits athletes will have to change after COVID-19
Once sports and citizens return to some semblance of normal after COVID-19 has been somewhat neutralized, things will have to change as people become leerier of unsanitary practices. This includes some habits that pro athletes have come to know as regular parts of routines. Here are some habits that may be forbidden in the wake of COVID-19:
High fives in the NBA
The NBA would be more susceptible to transferring the virus between players than other leagues. Players are sweating while getting physical with one another and competing in tank tops and shorts. NBA players are also among the athletes most notable for high-fiving teammates after big plays or creating other complicated handshakes. This practice, which also happens in other sports, may need to end — or at least occur less frequently.
Spitting in baseball
Baseball players are notorious for spitting. While doing so on the dugout floor or the field isn’t terribly unsanitary, players will likely not do it as often in the “new normal.” However, there is a bigger issue with spitting in baseball.
Among them is when players spit on their hands. Whether it’s a pitcher trying to get a better grip on the ball or a hitter trying to do with the same with his bat, players will have to be conscious about saliva moving forward.