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Finally, some good news for sports fans. Leagues are confirming plans to get teams back to work to finish up their pandemic-halted 2019–20 seasons.
NASCAR and horse racing have already hit the tracks, and on June 5, the NBA announced that 22 teams will return to the court for an eight-game season wrap-up followed by the playoffs.
Training camp begins June 30; teams then head to Orlando, where games are expected to run July 31 to October 12 (one location prevents the need to travel). “We are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. Basketball will air on ABC, ESPN and TNT.
For hockey buffs, voluntary small-group practice has begun, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hopes training camps will launch by July 10. While a start date for games (to air on NBCUniversal networks) is not yet set, the plan is for 24 teams to go straight into the playoffs. Still not ready to take us out to the ballgame is the MLB, as the league rejected a 114-game season to start June 30.
Of course, one major element missing from all these contests: stadiums full of cheering fans. “My best guess is it will be jarring for [fans and players] the first few days, and then gradually feel normal,” says Mike Greenberg, host of ESPN’s Get Up! Still, he adds, “These shortened sprints toward a championship [could] be among the most exciting and emotional sports seasons we have seen in a long time.” Game on!