Overall, the absence of sports hasn’t affected me all that much. The NFL has been largely unaffected by this point outside the draft being held in basements. The Trail Blazers were having an injury-ridden garbage season that would be best forgotten. I still don’t really have a hockey team to root for, as I’m holding out to pledge allegiance to the Seattle team when they come in. As an Orioles fan, the less baseball I watch the better off I am. So outside missing the NBA/NHL playoffs, I’m pretty fine. I’ve also been bemoaning the amount of baseball games for ages, so the prospect of a shortened season rendering wins more valuable actually interests me.

Some of my friends and colleagues have not been taking it as well. This baseball loving friend in particular has been offering regular updates on him trying to grow grass in his backyard. I’m worried about him. Marcus, please seek help.

The longer this goes on the more evident it becomes that even football is probably going to be affected. Sports will come back, probably next month, because too much money is wrapped up in this stuff to let the owners just walk it off. The players need their income too. But we could very well see an entire year of sports without crowds. Before you get your “Sounds like a typical (team with no fans) game” joke in there, we actually do have a single instance of this actually happening that we could look at for what it might be like. Pretty much everyone who witnessed it called it surreal. I would concur. It was weird. Sports without fans feels so….unceremonious. It looks like a practice. We will likely get our sports back, but they aren’t going to be the same sports experience, and I’m not sure a lot of the people calling for re-opening realize it.

As for each sport? I’m curious to see how things play out. Baseball will likely do okay. A shortened season will be fun and make every game more important. Baseball is also probably the least at-risk sport out of all of them. You can’t social distance in team sports much harder than baseball players do. I’m more at risk going for a walk than a center fielder is.

The NBA and NHL are the ones that are under the worst situation. They can’t finish the season out, but they also have to play some sort of playoff because I can’t see either league just straight cancelling the season and starting anew. That is honestly probably the best course of action, but fans would riot and the players would also hate it. Both sports feature far more contact than baseball, though hockey might be somewhat tolerable thanks to uniforms covering almost an entire body making skin contact difficult, especially if they add more to the facemasks. Neither sport can afford to wait much longer though, as the stoppage drags on it leaves less and less time for a proper offseason and may impact the beginning of the next season. I’ve heard rumblings of just taking teams at their current records, seeding them out, and playing a shortened playoff system to crown a winner. If they have to play more for the season, this isn’t the worst concept. It might not feel like a true championship, but I think we can all sort of forgive that right now.

The NFL needs to count their lucky stars they squeaked the super bowl in before everything went to shit, because football is a huge infection risk. Football works pretty well on TV so it won’t suffer the same way Baseball/Basketball/Hockey will without crowds, but so many people are involved during an average football game, a game explicitly starring human contact. All starters. All backups. All referees. All coaching staff. All medical personnel. All technical support folks like cameramen and sound guys. The many waterboys who squirt Gatorade into player mouths. Football is a disgusting petri dish of a sport.

And that’s honestly the biggest issue with all of them. It might work okay for a bit, but if any of these players become infected, most of the people involved in a game will become infected before a doctor catches it. Most players are in great health and probably won’t show many symptoms, then carry the bug back home to family members. If they take the steps required to properly quarantine the players between every engagement you have to wonder if this is even worth it, forcing these restrictions on people just so you can watch sports on your TV. The testing it would require to keep updated on the status of the players would take hundreds of tests away from the general public, who are already severely undeserved for testing and need it far more than JJ Watt does after a game. It feels like the people who are demanding shops re-open so they can make other people cut their hair, putting so many more at risk for vanity. It would be nice to get a haircut, it would be nice to watch sports, but it just isn’t essential to life. I had a distant family member die of the virus last month, and I’ve seen some friends much closer to me go through the worst of it. Please take this thing seriously.