The problem is sports are simply not built to withstand extended delays. The schedule is too tight and too reliant on its reliability and regularity. The NFL just announced its new schedule (starting in 2021) will include an extra game. These sports leagues have had their structures and routines in place for decades, and they tend to run like clockwork. When one spring breaks loose, it can be hard, if I can mix the metaphor, to get the trains back running on time. Taking one week out of any sport’s calendar messes the whole machine up. Taking one month, or two, or three, could break the whole thing down. Every delay cascades. Time passes exponentially. Until it’s gone.
There are estimates that in Italy, the current quarantine could last to the end of this month or even much longer. If the virus can’t be contained even with quarantines and isn’t (as is so often hoped) burned off by the summer heat, large public gatherings will surely be discouraged even after city or national quarantine orders are lifted. In this scenario, how could MLB start having games with, or even without, fans before July? If the NBA season is out that long, it’s difficult to see how it could continue in time, considering the season usually ends in June; would baseball, which is usually at its halfway point and the All-Star break at that time, even have time to start?
And that’s not the worst case, either. If the coronavirus leads to a breakdown in our health care system (or something even worse), this could last deep into the fall, or much longer. We are less than six months from the start of football season, and less than five months from training camps. Are we sure this is going to be over in five months?