The St. Louis Blues and the NHL continue to hope for a resolution to the 2019-20 season. They might have gotten a glimmer of hope from an unlikely source.
The St. Louis Blues are still holding out hope they will be able to defend their Stanley Cup championship. For selfish, sporting reasons, they want this because they know their window is wide open and do not fully know what their 2020-21 lineup will look like.
There is a good chance their current captain, Alex Pietrangelo might be wearing a different sweater. There is also just the chance that the pieces don’t fall into place, no matter who is on the roster. Now is the time to try winning it all again.
However, the global pandemic due to the covid-19 virus threw a gigantic wrench into all those plans. There is no guarantee any American sports league will be able to return.
As Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. South Korea just offered a glimmer of hope for the sports-starved Blues fan. The NHL, and all sports leagues across North America will be watching over the next week or so to see what happens.
In the first week of May, the KBO – Korea’s version of Major League Baseball – began their season. Like MLB, the KBO had been delayed around five weeks from their normal start time.
Knowing fans are desperate for anything live, ESPN signed a short-term deal to televise the Korean league. So far, the ratings have been decent, despite game times starting around midnight in the United States.
What the Blues and the NHL will be more interested in is the operational aspect. Most importantly, does anyone get sick.
Sports radio, and the culture at large, is still afraid of what happens if someone gets sick in these competitions. The KBO’s plan is to let things play out and then react quickly to any symptoms.
According to NPR, the league will immediately quarantine any player showing symptoms. They will temperature scan all players and personnel twice a day and also shut down the entire stadium immediately for any player put into quarantine.
This is about as good as it will get. The testing is still not available on a massive scale and there is a public outcry that wealthy athletes should not be using up tests that would be better served on the public.
So, the Korean baseball league is sort of a litmus test on how sports will work in this “new world”. In its infant stages, it seems like it is going well.
All people working the games, i.e. not players or managers, will wear masks. No fans will be in attendance and, according to members of The Fast Lane on ESPN 101, they did use canned noise for the television broadcast and it made it seem slightly more normal.
One of the stranger things they did, as seen in the main article picture, was put up fan pictures over the seats. I don’t know if all the teams did this, but I supposed it would look a little less distracting than just empty seats, overall.
Hopefully this works and is successful so fans in America and Canada can get their sports back without being made to feel guilty by others. We all want the public to be safe and healthy, but for whatever reason, I don’t see how a group of men who are currently healthy (assuming they’ve been tested at least once) put the greater public in danger.
If they quarantine players in their hotels, the only people at any risk are the players themselves and the skeleton crews working the game in a media or security aspect. If a fan is immunocompromised, they won’t be in the arena anyway.
That’s just my two cents. Having sports back would be good for the morale and provide a much needed distraction, whether you are an essential worker needing a respite or under self-isolation and needing a distraction.
Fingers crossed that the Korean baseball season continues without a hitch and proves it can be done here in North America.