U.S. sports update: pro sports back in business

Sam Woloson, Editor-in-Chief of The Prowler

The MLB’s season was delayed and shortened, including the cancellation of the annual All-Star Game. Spring training began on July 1, dubbed as “summer camp” by fans. They began a shortened 60-game regular season on July 23 with a few new rules in place, such as socially distanced dugouts. The postseason has also been expanded, which will include a total of 16 teams. The postseason begins Sept. 27, with the World Series scheduled to begin Oct. 23.

The NBA’s season was canceled partway through in March. The league did not want to the season be all for naught. Their solution was creating the NBA Bubble. It invited the 22 teams that were within six games of a playoff spot to play eight additional season games to determine the playoff seeding. The NBA playoffs began with 7-game series as expected Aug. 17. The NBA Finals begin Sept. 30. Notably, several games during the bubble were halted due to BLM protests started by the players. The bubble has served as both a way to resume basketball but also a way to create unity amongst the players.

The NFL was fortunate enough to be in the early stages of its offseason when the virus began to close down the country. The NFL Draft happened virtually for the first time in its history, training camps were shortened and the preseason was completely cut out. Players can also opt-out of participating and are not counted towards a team’s 53 man roster by doing this. The NFL also will debut a new playoff bracket, which will allow for a third wild card team for each conference, making there 14 playoff participants a year – nearly half the league. The 2020 season began Sept. 8 for all 32 teams.

The NHL’s season was also interrupted by the virus. It resumed May 22 with a modified and expanded Stanley Cup Playoffs. This included the top 12 teams in each conference, including a new qualifying round for the bottom eight teams in each conference. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in this year’s Stanley Cup. The Seattle Kraken was also founded as an expansion team, with its inaugural season set to begin in 2021.

The MLS season was suspended partway through Mar. 12. It would return July 8 in a one-off tournament titled the “MLS is Back” Tournament held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The regular season began Aug. 12 with two new expansion teams. Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC are the 25th and 26th teams to respectively join the league. The MLS Cup is set to start Dec. 12.