I never thought I’d be talking about the UFC and the German Soccer League, the Bundesliga, in the same breath, but here we are.
And frankly, as a sports fan, I’m struggling with feeling excitement and real concern at the same time.
This weekend, the UFC became the first major sporting event on U.S. soil since leagues shutdown because of COVID-19. It went forward, despite having to cancel a fight when one fighter and two of his cornermen tested positive a day before the event. Then again, that fighter had taken part in a distanced stare down wearing a mask and gloves before receiving his positive result.
By all initial feedback, the event was a success. UFC President Dana White said that 1,200 tests were administered on 300 people throughout the week.
We can only hope that the positive tests prevented anyone else from becoming infected, as we’ll find out as the UFC moves forward with more fights this week.
Meanwhile, the Bundesliga, which is scheduled to start back up this Saturday, announced that two players on Dynamo Dresden’s soccer team tested positive for COVID-19. The positive tests have forced the entire team to be quarantined for two weeks. It also means that Dresden will be unable to play in their first two games of the scheduled restart – and will have to make those games up at a later date.
Despite this news, the Bundesliga is still going forward.
But it raises so many questions – abroad, and closer to home – especially as it relates to a league like the NFL or college football.
What happens if a player on a 90-man roster in training camp or a 63-man roster including a practice squad tests positive? Does the entire team go into quarantine for two weeks? Can they still practice? If it’s in the middle of the season, where are those games made up?
Remember, a broken ankle affects one competitor. This virus potentially affects everyone that has been around that individual who has tested positive. Look at how many players were affected by that one positive test by Rudy Goebert in Utah. And even if the professional players sign off on it as a risk to doing their job and earning an income, would college players be comfortable assuming similar risks?
I don’t have those answers.
Listen, the sports fan in me loved seeing everyone once again talking about live sporting events on social media with the return of the UFC and the Korean Baseball Organization playing live games all week, albeit at the wee hours of the morning.
And maybe the UFC and NASCAR, which returns next weekend, and the PGA Tour, which starts up again next month, can all move forward with enough testing because individual competitors can hopefully be removed without affecting a larger picture.
But I’m still genuinely concerned for the well-being of the athletes, coaches and staffers involved as leagues make these decisions and move forward.
That shouldn’t classify me as an alarmist – but rather a very hopeful sports fan who feels uneasy about whether this all will actually work.