When do fans get welcomed back to arenas? . . . Second thoughts for some NBAers? . . . BCIHL won’t start before Jan. 15

John Matisz of The Score spent time talking with “five experts from the fields of epidemiology, infectious diseases, and virology.” The conversations dealt with the NHL and its proposed return to play, hub cities, positive tests and a whole lot more. . . . If you’re a hockey fan, or just a sports fan, this is interesting stuff, and it’s all right here. You will want to read this to its conclusion, because the final question is: “Would it be wise for the NHL — or any other sports league, for that matter — to welcome fans back into arenas before a vaccine is readily available?”


The NBA’s back-to-play plan calls for 22 teams to gather in Orlando, Fla., starting on July 7, with its championship final possibly running through Oct. 13. Players would be required to stay in their bubble without family or friends until at least Aug. 30. . . . But now some players are talking about not reporting. Malcolm Brogdon, a guard with the Indiana Pacers who sits on the Players Association Executive Committee told The J.J. Redick Podcast this week the he has “talked to a few guys that are super-interested in sitting out, possibly. . . . Some guys are gonna say, for health reasons and the long-term effects that we don’t understand about COVID, I want to sit out. Other guys are gonna say, the black community and my people are going through too much for me to basically be distracted with basketball. . . . I think it’s a matter of perspective, (but) guys are gathering to really talk about and dive into the idea of not playing.”


Hugs


The U of Houston suspended all voluntary workouts on Friday after six student-athletes tested positive. The six were symptomatic and have been placed in isolation while tracing is undertaken. . . . It’s not known what sports the athletes are involved with, but the football and basketball teams had been cleared to begin workouts. . . . In advance of athletes returning, the school had decided to test only those who were symptomatic, rather than everyone who was coming back. . . . As of Friday evening, according to USA TODAY, 11 U.S. universities had student-athletes test positive. . . .

The Boston Bruins revealed on Friday that an unnamed player has tested positive for COVID-19 although he didn’t display any symptoms. He was tested prior to entering the NHL team’s practice facility, but has since tested negative twice. . . .

The 99-member Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association has cancelled its four fall 2020 national championships — golf, men’s and women’s soccer, and cross-country. . . .

A Romanian soccer league game between visiting Botosani and Universitatea Craiova was postponed on Friday after a member of Botosani’s medical team tested positive. . . . A Saturday game that had China Targoviste at Dinamo Bucharest also was postponed after Dinamo had a staff member come up positive. . . .

Six of the teams in baseball’s American Association are planning to open a 60-game regular season on July 3. That includes the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who will play, just not on their home field. The Chicago Dogs, Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks, Milwaukee Milkmen, Sioux Falls Canaries, St. Paul Saints and Winnipeg are going to play in hub cities. Two teams each will be assigned to Fargo, Milwaukee and Sioux Falls. The Goldeyes will play out of Fargo. . . .

Baseball’s New York-Penn League announced on Friday that the start of its 2020 season is being delayed indefinitely. It also has cancelled its All-Star Game. . . . The 14-team league is a Class A short-season league. Its season was to have opened on June 18. . . .

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Friday that “two people involved in the game — one described as a major league pitching coach and one a 40-man roster player — have contracted COVID-19, multiple sources told The Post. No one would name the people who contracted the virus. But those aware of the situation say the pitching coach had the virus weeks ago and is now recovered. The 40-man roster player was described as having contracted the virus more recently, but with the belief that he has not infected anyone else involved in the game.” . . .

The PGA Tour Champions event scheduled for Calgary, Aug. 24-30, has been cancelled. The City of Calgary has revoked event permits through Aug. 31. That figured in the decision, as did various travel restrictions.


Headline on the Los Angeles Times’ website on Friday: L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle.


Clinic


The five-team B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League has announced that its season won’t start before Jan. 15 “due to safety concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.” . . . According to a news release, the league has approved a tentative 12-game regular-season schedule, along with a modified playoff structure. . . . From a news release: “Individual BCIHL teams are permitted to explore exhibition game opportunities for the fall semester within the boundaries of their institution, facility, and BC Hockey and Hockey Canada Return to Play protocols.” . . . The league has teams at Selkirk College in Castlegar, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Trinity Western University in Langley, the University of Victory and Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.


With live games starting to re-appear on your TV, and with the NBA and NHL seemingly headed in that direction, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t want to hear from fans who aren’t in attendance.

After a brief rant about how using mannequins or inflatable dolls as stand-ins for fans diminished the “total intellectual capital” of humankind, he wrote:

“I assume you are wondering at this point what might be worse than something that drains the inventory of human intellectual capital. Well, the idea of piping in crowd noise because there are no live fans to provide spontaneous crowd noise would fit that bill. The compelling thing about sports is that it is real; what is happening on the field or the court or the pitch or the ice is not some fakery or fantasy; it is there and it is happening in real time. Piping in ‘fake noise’ destroys that compelling element.”

Hey, he’s correct!

——

Here’s The Sports Curmudgeon closing Friday “by asking if this ever occurred to you: How did the people on Gilligan’s Island stay so happy episode after episode after they ran out of whatever supply of toilet paper they had on board?”

——

And here he is with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”


Adam Stuart has signed on as an assistant coach with the Cranbrook Bucks, who are preparing for their first BCHL season. Stuart, 31, spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based EDGE school’s midget prep team. In Cranbrook, he’ll work alongside Ryan Donald, the Bucks’ general manager and head coach. . . . Stuart’s brother, Derek, is the general manager and head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.


Scott Cunningham has left the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits after working as their assistant general manager and assistant coach. Cunningham spent six years in Brooks. . . . “I look forward to starting a new career and also being able to spend more time with my family,” Cunningham said in a news release. . . . Prior to joining the Bandits, he spent eight seasons as head coach of the Northern Pacific Hockey League’s Helena Bighorns.


Iron

CFL delays start until at least July . . . MLB’s Arizona option gets panned . . . Heartfelt tribute to Jack Bowkus


The CFL’s regular season was to have started on June 11. The training season was to have opened in mid-May with rookie camps; main camps were set to start on May 13.

The CFL now says it won’t get started until sometime in July at the earliest.

With the cities of Calgary and Ottawa having locked down all facilities through June 30, the CFL really wasn’t left with much choice.

The league still hopes to play a full season, meaning 18 regular-season games for each team. But that doesn’t seem likely with the Grey Cup game scheduled for Regina on Nov. 22.

Here’s what Pat Neufeld, an offensive lineman with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, told Ed Tait of bluebombers.com:

“It’s tough. I’m still hopeful, but nobody knows how any of this is going to play out. It’s going to evolve over time, but now it’s a matter of keeping people safe.

“This is bigger than sports and entertainment right now. People have to stay patient and stay hopeful and understand this. We’ll get through this and eventually we’ll have football.”


In the meantime, Major League Baseball apparently has been discussing options, one of which would involve taking all of its 30 teams to Arizona, holding mini-training camps of some sort, and then playing regular-season games in empty facilities throughout the state.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post has taken a look at MLB, this particular option and the logistical nightmare that would be involved in making it work. That’s all right here.

——

Here’s Larry Stone of the Seattle Times:

“But this possible plan floated by MLB — which likes to send out more trial balloons than the United States Weather Service — is rife with holes, wishful thinking, dangerous assumptions and unsolvable quandaries.

“Beyond that, is it really wise to be putting so aggressive a timeline on baseball’s return at a time when the full scope of coronavirus’ devastation is still being felt?

“As much as we all covet the return of live sports in general, public health is still paramount, and I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how this advances that cause. COVID-19 is not an illness that adheres to the calendar. We’ve already learned in painful fashion, as the reopening of various elements of society keep getting pushed back. To think we can control the timeline borders on recklessness.”

Stone’s entire column is right here.


——

I have to think MLB would have a hard time selling that plan to players and their wives. Here are three tweets from Eireann Dolan, the wife of Washington Nationals’ reliever Sean Doolittle:

“Ok now what about the non-millionaire hotel workers, security staff, grounds crews, media members, team traveling staffs, clubhouse attendants, janitorial workers, food service workers, and the billion other people required to make that 3.5 hour game happen every night?”

“Y’all asking them to stay at their current salaries but also stay locked inside Baseball Biodome for an indefinite amount of time away from their families during a GD pandemic? This is a reckless and irresponsible kernel of an idea. Shut it down.”

“Let me clarify that I really want baseball back. But not if it’s not done safely, not if it requires sacrifices like this from people who make minimum wage, and not if it means redirecting badly needed medical and testing supplies away from the public and to a sports league.”

——

When looking at this one MLB option, the naysayers are forgetting one thing. It was just last month when Agent Orange told some state governors: “The virus that we’re talking about having to do, a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April.” . . . Well, it gets real hot — REAL HOT! — in Arizona in the heart of the summer. So, if we are to believe Agent Orange, as millions seem to do, well, maybe MLB is on to something here.


Gaugin



The NFL’s 32 teams are to hold their 2020 draft April 23-25. It will be a virtual draft with everyone involved operating from the safety of their own homes.

So how might all of this work out. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports:

“It’ll be interesting to see how the NFL approaches a fully virtual draft from a technical standpoint, not to mention how it’ll be covered on TV. I feel like there’s a good chance of chaos here. Are we going to see pets/toddlers/shirtless dads interrupt draft interviews on Skype? What if technology fails? What if Bill Belichick manages to hack the mainframe and rig the whole thing?

“If my experience with fully virtual fantasy football drafts is any indication, most GMs will be way too drunk by the middle rounds and at least two players will be auto picked after the front office loses wifi connection.”


When Pro Football Focus asked “Best defence in sports history?”, the response from @SportsPickle was “O.J. Simpson’s.” . . . Hey, hard to argue with that.


Gator


The plan was for NBC to provide 7,500 hours of content on various platforms from the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo in July. Of course, those Games now are scheduled for 2021. . . . Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had a couple of ideas on how NBC will fill the time now:

“NBC has a cache of Law and Order SUV episodes that date back about 20 years.  If they play them sequentially as reruns, we can watch Marissa Hargitay’s career progression from Detective through Captain.

NBC has available reruns of Chicago FireChicago P.D and Chicago Med.  Maybe they will have time to produce a few episodes of a new series — Chicago Veterinarian — to augment that line of broadcasting.”

The curmudgeonly one’s Tuesday offering is right here.

——

And here is his Thought of the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A judge is a law student who grades his own examination papers.”


The Canadian Grand Prix that was to have been held in Montreal, June 12-14, has been postponed. Formula One’s first eight races have either been cancelled (two) or postponed (six). The Canadian race is No. 8 on the calendar. . . . A further decision is expected this month. . . .

Former NHLer Craig Ramsay is the head coach of the Slovakian national men’s hockey team. He said Tuesday that he is forsaking his salary while he, like so many others, is unemployed and waiting to go back to work. . . . Ramsay is believed to be earning €140,000 a season, which is about Cdn$213,000. . . .


Hills