Commentary: Remain hopeful, but prepare to be disappointed for road bumps in upcoming seasons

We’re now less than a week from the start of the very first pro sports league involving teams in North America getting underway.

And whether you’re a fan of the National Women’s Soccer League or not, my best advice would be: Enjoy it, because who knows what else could be cancelled.

In just a matter of days, Major League Baseball has closed down all of its spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida to disinfect them after eight members of the Phillies, including five players, tested positive for COVID-19. Three players on the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with other staff members tested positive, temporarily shutting down their training facilities. The positive tests in the NHL since June 8th has now reached 11.

Twenty-three football players at Clemson have tested positive. More than 30 LSU players are now in quarantine, and Kansas State is pausing voluntary workouts for two weeks after 14 student-athletes tested positive.

Oh, and the NFL’s players association has recommended that players stop working out together on their own. ESPN reports that around 10 NFL teams have had at least one player test positive, like the Texans and Cowboys, who had multiple positive tests, including star running back Zeke Elliott. According to the Sporting News, at least a few coaches are questioning the viability of having a season.

Tonight isn’t about scaring anyone – it’s simply about facing the reality of what we’re doing here. Billions of dollars are riding on these seasons happening – and yet, this virus is still here.

And it’s spiking in places like Florida, where the MLS, NBA and WNBA are all heading next month to attempt to continue or begin their respective seasons.

Of all these leagues, the NWSL might have the best chance to pull it off. They’ll be in Utah with the fewest number of teams. But even that league isn’t immune to the problem, announcing this week that a player had tested positive. Fortunately so far, contact tracing and increased testing hasn’t resulted in more positive tests.

But get ready, because if we’re doing this – if we’re really going to do this – prepare for what could be the most fragmented and distorted seasons we’ve ever seen. And prepare for everyone to question at some point or another, “Is this all really worth it?”

Believe me: I want sports to return just as much, if not more than anyone else out there. The last few weeks of watching non-contact sports like NASCAR and golf, which hold fewer risks to the competitors – but still isn’t immune, given Nick Watney’s positive test and withdrawal from the PGA Tour event this week – has been a huge breath of fresh air. It’s reminded me why I love sports so much and how much I missed it.

But even with health protocols in place, this week reminded us that there will continue to be positive tests. And with positive tests comes the inevitable sequestering of everyone these individuals have been in contact with, including their teammates.

So that’s why my only advice is: Enjoy team sports while we can – enjoy the OL Reign and the rest of the NWSL when they kickoff their tournament next week, and hope that it’s a success. Savor every sporting event that goes off without a hitch as if it’s the last one we’ll see.

We can all remain hopeful and optimistic. Just maybe avoid getting our hopes up too much – and seeing them dashed multiple times along the way.