Well here we are. It is a very peculiar, exciting, and cautious place to be. With all that has happened in the past few months, sports are returning and many schools are attempting to get back to work in the fall engaging young minds in academia and athletics. However, there are (I suppose) many schools and athletic organizations still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

Here in Texas, the University Interscholastic League gave the go ahead for fall sports to return, after a few schools decided to either delay their fall sports to the spring or not have any school or extracurricular activities at all. I guess it's so far, so good on the local front.

But how about the major league sports teams? There has been some golf and tennis so far. But some sports are just returning. Like baseball. Major League Baseball finally came back after an extremely long hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Opening Day on July 23 saw a pair of matchups between the Yankees and Nationals and the Giants and Dodgers. The rest of the league opened up on Friday, July 24.

First of all, it was kind of fun to see baseball back on television. I didn't get to see all of the games, but a few that I caught were complete with mostly empty stands with CGI fans or cardboard cutouts of people. I forget which game it was, but a homer nearly took off the head of one of those cutouts. And to even make the game seem more like a regular game, there was, what I assume, prerecorded crowd noise to get that natural feel of a crowded ballpark. It did add something to the game, but it still wasn't like the "real" thing with actual fans in the stands and real reactions and noise.

The weekend continued.

News came on Monday that the Marlins-Orioles game was postponed due to a breakout among several players and coaches from the Marlins with the coronavirus. The Marlins just played the Phillies over the weekend. The Phillies were scheduled to host the Yankees on Monday, but that game was postponed as well.

Wow. Baseball finally returns already a few days into the season two games are postponed.

This health pandemic has certainly taken its toll. On everything. And it may lead to scrapping the rest of this baseball season. Rob Manfred, at this point, has not said anything definitive if he is going to cancel the rest of the season due to COVID-19. Another report came out Monday afternoon stating the MLB or Manfred have not intentions of shutting down the season now. Although, it is still unclear what would warrant such a situation. I suppose if this happens again, on a little larger scale, then there might be some reconsideration on the part of the league on what to do to move forward. In the meantime, enjoy the game while it lasts.

Additionally, the NBA is scheduled to begin its regular season on Thursday, with scrimmages this week leading up to the opening tipoff. We'll see how that goes.

There is, I think, a bright spot in this. The first NFL player announced on Friday to opt out of the season per the new agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA. The right guard for the Kansas City Chiefs Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will not be joining the team as he has decided to return to Canada to assist in this global crisis. He began working at a long-term care facility in Quebec in April. Per a statement, "Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals in our healthcare system. … If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients," Tardif said.

He completed medical school in 2018, and now just over two years later he is putting that work into practice assisting with the COVID-19 outbreak. I applaud Tardif for making the decision to help in a positive way during this pandemic. I think it speaks a lot about his character for doing so.

Sports – whether professional or amateur. High school or junior high. College or little league – create an escape. The action allows us to focus on something else for two or three hours and spend time with friends and/or family. It provides another form of entertainment.

In the case of local high school sports, from what I've seen, it's an opportunity for these young student-athletes to not only become better athletes but better people as well. They are taught skills and lessons to use throughout their young life into adulthood and be outstanding men and women beyond high school. Let's just hope and pray the new academic athletic season plays out and allows youth to play the sports they love.

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