When 2020 on the calendar rolled around, the excitement surrounding the state of the football world was buzzing. After all, we were going to get the newest chapter in the world of the XFL. Vince McMahon’s proposed rebirth of the defunct 2000 league was meet with skepticism and excitement. The product debuted and a lot of the skeptics went quiet as the XFL produced quality content from the on field product to the innovative rule changes down to the commentary and sideline reporting. The raw emotion was a breath of fresh air in a stale and rather uneventful world of professional football. 2020 was off to a great start.
As Lee Corso would say: “Not so fast!”
COVID-19 had other plans for the world and those plans did not fit into the world of professional football. The virus spread fast: it took China and Italy and shut down both countries entirely, it caused a ton of deaths in Spain and in America, it’s done more damage to the economy than any politician could ever take credit for. It singlehandedly shut down all sports across the world. NCAA cancelled all spring sports, including March Madness, Wimbeldon was cancelled for the first time since World War II, NASCAR cancelled several races and turned to the world of virtual racing, the NHL and NBA cancelled the remainder of their season. The MLB hasn’t even started and we just hit May on the calendar.
The XFL died. Literally. COVID-19 killed the entire league and the fans were robbed of any joy that might come from a spring league. In the wake of the XFL’s untimely demise, spring football as we know it, the idea of it, died, as well. The arena leagues took a hit, as well; the IFL cancelled their season and the NAL has had to postponed the start of their season: they still hope to play in 2020. The CFL may not play a down this year either. The MLB still holds out hope to return for a 2020 season, but the outlook isn’t presenting to be too good at this point. NASCAR is returning next month, but they’ll race in front of empty grandstands: which doesn’t take away from the racing experience in the sense of watching on television.
The NFL has delayed the start of all camps. But they haven’t changed much else. They still held the NFL Draft at the end of April by doing a simulcasted virtual broadcast over ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network. They just announced today that they still plan on releasing the 2020 NFL schedule, as planned, next week. Despite the overwhelming dreadful feeling that the NCAA football season could be cancelled, the NFL has continued as planned.
Some people have felt the NFL is making a big mistake by planning as scheduled, others have applauded their stance on planning as normal. Right now, with no sports, the NFL is the only beacon of light that sports could return and some sense of normalcy is on the horizon.
So, what are the next steps? Governors have introduced plans to reopen their states with a tiered step program to ensure that more lives aren’t put at risk due to COVID-19. NASCAR is the first major sporting organization to return to a semi-normal functioning event schedule and the MLB is still making plans to play in 2020. But what does this all mean for the world of football? Honestly, we’re still uncertain. The world is still hanging in the balance with no vaccine reportedly being close to being developed and the country slowly starts trying to acclimate to the a new society filled with precautions, masks and buttloads of sanitizer. What we do know is that this is unlikely to last forever and fans just have to continue to hold out hope as long as possible.
In the meantime, the NFL is doing the right thing. They’re continuing to proceed as if the world hasn’t drastically changed and right now that’s something the fans need. We need that light. Whether you love or hate the NFL, the NFL is the only beacon of light by continuing as planned. Whether or not that effects anything come September is, unfortunately, not up to the NFL, it’s up to us as fans to do our part and up to whether or not COVID-19 wants to disappear and give us our lives back.