The sports world started grinding to a halt on March 11th when the NBA suspended play following positive tests for the novel coronavirus, COVID 19. Other leagues followed suit and most of the world has shut down to some extent to deal with this pandemic.
The NFL has been lucky that it's the offseason, but there have already been significant changes made. The NFL draft will go on as scheduled April 23-25, but it will now be virtual instead of the Las Vegas extravaganza that was planned.
Pre-draft visits and college pro days have been cancelled, with some turning to video conferencing as replacements. Offseason workouts have been delayed indefinitely. The Redskins were going to start their program on April 6th. The NFL is working on a way to get players their playbooks, but everyone will be behind if there is a season.
That brings us to today's conference call between President Donald Trump and the heads of the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, PGA Tour, UFC, WWE, NASCAR, and MLS. Trump told the group that he believes the NFL season will start on time in September. He also said he hopes that fans will be back in stadiums by August.
Trump also raised the idea of the leagues working together to lobby for tax incentives that used to exist for entertainment expenses, such as the ability to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes, sources said. That would be a way for leagues to jump-start fans’ ability to return to stadiums in a difficult economy.
The NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, had this to say about the regular season starting on time this year:
Among the conditions Sills noted must be met for the NFL to begin practices and games on time is the availability of point-of-care coronavirus tests — which yield quick results and can be done off-site from hospitals, for example — and the removal of gathering restrictions due to the pandemic.
”As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport,” Sills told NFL.com. “Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.”
Will the NFL season happen as scheduled this year?
This poll is closed
Scheduled participants on call with Trump:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
NBA – Adam Silver
WNBA – Cathy Engelbert
MLB – Rob Manfred
NFL – Roger Goodell
NHL – Gary Bettman
PGA Tour – Jay Monahan
UFC – Dana White
WWE - Vince McMahon
NASCAR – John Middlebrook or Jim France.
MLS – Don Garber.
Notice: No NCAA. https://t.co/ZqKhN6sdGO
As a reminder, here is what the @NFL’s chief medical officer told @judybattista last week about the conditions necessary to start the season: https://t.co/CBViseU07R— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) April 4, 2020
White House pool report from the call with pro sports commissioners: https://t.co/kUMRXefifz— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) April 4, 2020
A veteran NFL player reached out to me this week with this question: "If they tell us we're playing again, even without fans, do we have to play? What if our personal doctor advises against it?" Good questions; so many more like it will be raised.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) April 4, 2020