The sports world came to a halt on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, all professional sport playoffs and regular seasons have been put into limbo. With states around the country slowly starting to reopen, many leagues and player associations have started to agree on new formats to get players back on the field, court and ice. Here are the latest updates from around the leagues.
On June 4, the NBA board of governors approved to resume the 2019-2020 season at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort with the proposed start date of Friday, July 31. This approved plan calls for a new 22-team format to complete the remaining regular season games.
According to the NBA press release, 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams will play eight seeding games and the seven teams in each conference with the best record will qualify for the playoffs, with a possible play-in tournament for the final eight seed. From there, fans can expect the traditional best-of-seven playoff series throughout the playoffs.
So, what does that mean for the Washington Wizards? Right now, the Wizards have the ninth overall record in the Eastern Conference, making them the last team to qualify in the new format and continue their playoff hopes. The NBA players association plans to approve the new format on Friday, June 5.
The NHL is also making steps to return to the ice after announcing its Return To Play Plan to finish the 2019-2020 season on May 26. Approved by both the owners and players, this plan cancels the rest of the regular season and expands the playoffs to the top 24 teams (based on points percentage).
The playoff expansion also means a new format to crown the 2020 Stanley Cup Winner. In each conference, the top four teams will play a round robin tournament to decide seeding for the first round of the playoffs while the other eight teams play in a best-of-five series to determine who advances to the next round. After the qualifying round, all series will be a best-of-seven and each team will be reseeded after every round.
This means the Washington Capitals will enter the playoffs as the Metropolitan Division champions and hold the third overall seed going into round robin play.
Unlike the NBA, the NHL has not announced a proposed start date for when play will resume, but has stated that training camps won’t resume earlier than the first half of July.
When it comes to the 2020 MLB season, a lot more is up in the air. Owners and players are still at a standstill trying to negotiate the number of games and player salaries for the postponed season.
While proposals have been made by both sides, including an 82-game season with expanded playoffs proposed by owners and a 114-game season with no additional pay cuts proposed by players, neither has come close to passing.
There has been a lot of pushback from players to the proposal made by MLB owners. Washington Nationals pitchers Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle have both spoken out on Twitter about their issues regarding the proposed season. Doolittle posted a whole thread about his worries and the problems he sees regarding player health and safety if the season resumes. While Scherzer focused on proposed salary cuts, tweeting, “There’s no justification to accept a second pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.”
As the clock keeps ticking and uncertainty surrounds Major League Baseball this season, this is definitely unfortunate for baseball fans who want a little normalcy in their lives.
The NWSL will be the first professional sports team in the country to resume play as all nine teams will travel to Utah and play in a month-long tournament starting Saturday, June 27.
The preliminary round of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, will feature 18 games over two weeks of play with the top eight teams heading to the quarterfinals on Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18. The semifinals and finals will be held on Wednesday, July 22 and Sunday, July 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The Washington Spirit are set to play four games in the preliminary round. Those include the Tuesday, June 30 game vs. Utah Royals FC, and the matchup on Saturday, July 4 against Megan Rapinoe and the OL Reign. Other games include one held on Wednesday, July 8 vs. Portland Thorns FC and another set for Monday, July 13 against the Houston Dash.
Fans can catch the tournament on CBS, CBS All Access and Twitch.