Widespread lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are now in their fourth month, much to nearly everyone’s dismay. Various restrictions have been lifted in some regions, allowing more businesses to reopen and slightly larger gatherings of people.
Athletics has a particularly difficult road back as sports organizations face extreme logistical hurdles when it comes to running competitions that are safe not only for the athletes, but for referees, coaches, and other event staff.
On top of safety concerns, the inability to have fans in attendance also presents serious economic challenges to restarting some of the world’s top professional leagues says Peter Schieffelin Nyberg, the CFO of the nonprofit Camino Community Center in Charlotte, which serves the area’s low-income community with a clinic, pantry, thrift shop, and other services.
The English Premier League has just started up again without crowds, while the WTA and ATP tennis tours are scheduled to resume in the middle of August. Chaos reigns over many other leagues including Major League Baseball, which is now unsure if there will be a 2020 season in any form. The NBA and NHL are still devising ways to finish their seasons, which were interrupted as their playoff schedules were approaching.
How Athletes are Coping
The ongoing uncertainty and lack of access to training and other facilities has proven challenging for athletes, who are scrambling for ways to stay in shape and keep their skills sharp while stuck in quarantine. Some have turned to social media platforms to try and enhance their skills, seeking out and practicing tutorials related to trick plays or highly skilled maneuvers.
Others are using the downtime to try and improve their mental game so they’ll have a new level of focus and clarity of thought during even the most hectic sequences once they’re back in competition. A lot of athletes have expressed difficulty dealing with the lockdown from a mental perspective and maintaining their motivation as well.
Peter Schieffelin Nyberg offers a couple of tips on that front, encouraging athletes of all levels to maintain their routines as best as they’re able and to challenge themselves in new and creative ways during their training sessions.
Some athletes have even turned to video games during the lockdown to feed their competitive fires. For highly driven athletes that thrive on the intensity of world-class competition and revel in the challenge of overcoming obstacles and other competitors, video games are now the only game in town. Various video game tournaments and other events have been held live on Twitch and other platforms featuring professional athletes duking it out in their favorite games.
Scores of shuttered athletes have also used their downtime to engage their large social media followings and the influence they wield to promote social justice issues, particularly following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In fact, some athletes have even suggested boycotting their leagues until certain inequities are addressed.
Most athletes though are desperate to get back on the field and to perform and compete for their fans again, and Peter Schieffelin Nyberg is among the many fans equally desperate to see them back in action.