The State of Stateside Sports

Tyreek Hill takes a knee

There are signs that the sporting world in the US is getting to grips with the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions that have been forced upon it, with MMA, boxing and golf all resuming.

There are plans in place for the big American sports to resume, although not all have a timescale yet, but the relevant authorities are getting ready to get the show back on the road.

American Football Ready for Kick-Off

There is good news for American Football fans as, hesitantly using the word luck would have it, the timing of the pandemic coincided with the off-season.

It did, of course, throw things up in the air but the NFL pressed ahead with a social-distancing, stay-at-home draft, which was generally well received, and the intention is to play a normal season as scheduled,

The big kick-off is set for Thursday, September 10 in the US, with the defending Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs, strong favourites at 4/21 to see off the Houston Texans.

The plan is to play a full 17-week season with the last game of the regular campaign on January 3, although there are contingency arrangements should the season need to be curtailed.

The playoffs are set to begin on January 9-10 with the Super Bowl taking place on February 7 in Tampa. The Chiefs are the 13/2 favourites to repeat, with last year’s beaten finalists, San Francisco 49ers at 9/1.

Like its big brother, NCAAF has a schedule in place given the timing of the season, with the first week set to begin on August 29 before the campaign ends on January 11.

Clemson Tigers are the 5/2 favourites for NCAAF glory, with Ohio State Buckeyes at 4/1 and Alabama Crimson Tide at 11/2.

Baseball Uncertain but NHL to Return in July

Other sports are a little more up in the air with no definite date of a return to action, although proposals are being considered.

In MLB, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel at the moment, with suggestions that a curtailed 60-game season will not be agreed to by the players’ union.

This could result in commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implementing a campaign, although a spike of coronavirus cases in important baseball states means that there is still some way to go in reaching a conclusion.

The NHL has already confirmed a Return to Play Plan with 24 teams set to contest qualification for the postseason, with the top-four teams in each conference receiving a bye into the first round of the playoffs.

The rest will play qualification series’ to determine who will also reach the first round, with all the games set to take place at two as-yet-undetermined “hub” locations.

No definitive date has been established but it will be no earlier than July. Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning share favouritism for the Stanley Cup at 13/2, with Colorado Avalanche next best at 8/1.

The NBA is trying to adopt a similar sort of path back to action with plans for a 22-team restart given approval by the Board of Governors, with a tentative return of July 31 pencilled in.

The players still need to give their backing to the restart, while it is contingent on also reaching an agreement with the Walt Disney Company to use their Orlando resort as a single site location for all games, practice and housing of squads for the remainder of the season.