Keeping our fingers crossed for live sports


Keeping our fingers crossed for live sports

The Sporting Edge

By: Paul Reid

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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Even as most of Jamaica's locally-based sportsmen and women at the high school and club level continue to wait for the resumption of sports since the break in March out of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, sports in other parts of the globe are inching their way back to some level of normalcy.

Two days ago we heard some positive news for the first time in months that the restart of the Red Stripe Premiere League is set for November with just two rounds to be played, instead of the three that had been the norm for about a decade or so.

The international sporting calendar has been picking up steadily and with the exception of empty stadia one could easily forget that we are still battling a very contagious virus.

Even while the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) cancelled two international friendlies that were scheduled for November, including one against the United States, European Nations Cup Football and club football have resumed, and there have also been Formula 1 racing, Tour de France road cycling, The US Open tennis and golf events.

The finals of both NBA Conferences are being played staged in a 'bubble' in Florida, international cricket is being played in several countries, the NFL has played two full rounds so far, while the Major League Soccer league as well as the USL leagues featuring a number of Jamaican players are being played.

There was a big leap last week when German club football saw the return of fans to stadiums to watch live games and a number of Premier League clubs in England have been investigating ways they can do the same.

The commentator waxed nostalgic about having live fans in the seats, instead of the cardboard cut-outs we have been seeing since the resumption of sports, and it could be assumed the players benefited as well.

The plan to reintroduce fans to venues is a good one and there were several thousands in the stands two weeks ago as the Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs started the season with a win over the Houston Texans.

Stadiums will accept a limited number of fans, maybe a third of the capacity with social distancing being observed.

Recently, a fan, the brother of a Los Angeles Lakers player, was evicted from a game that was being played in the NBA bubble for verbally abusing a player from the Houston Rockets team.

We don't highlight or condone boorish fans who think they have a right to abuse players, but in the context of the slow return to normalcy, it was another tiny step forward.

Watching live sports on television might be the closest Jamaicans will get to any sports for a while as uncertainty hangs over the country with the continued rise in new COVID-19 cases and increased rate of related deaths.

Even with the JFF announcing plans to restart the RSPL, we are still unsure if games will be able to be played given the high rate of infection and with Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) cancelling all sports for the Christmas term, including schoolboys' football and schoolgirls' netball as well as basketball, it could be a few more months before we see live sports in the country for the remainder of the calendar year.

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