Sideline View by Dale McKee
After three months of inactivity in the professional ranks, what does the summer look like? Across the pond England, Spain and Italy have resumed their top-tier soccer league play. The pro leagues in the United States have been monitoring their outcome. Most of our pro teams want to play and are planning for a comeback, provided the players and owners can keep everyone safe. NASCAR has made a limited comeback with no fans, and pro golf has had a couple of charity events. The NBA is planning on releasing a plan to complete the last month of their regular season in Orlando beginning July 31. The National Hockey League will have summer tournaments in selected cities. Other pro leagues, like soccer and professional tennis and the PGA tours, are also planning a return.
Major League Baseball
Major League baseball is in limbo as the owners and players are still discussing several major issues before the season can resume. This week MLB announced that over 400 minor league players have been released from their contracts over the last month. The MLB teams were paying their minor leaguers $400 per week through May 31. Not all teams released players. MLB wanted to open their season on July 4 weekend, but it looks more doubtful everyday that deadline will be met.
After over two months of inactivity, the Mississippi High School Activities Association has lifted their suspension, as most Mississippi High Schools will resume conditioning programs this week. The MHSAA executive committee voted on May 21 to reopen facilities beginning this week. The activities will be limited to workouts and intra-squad games for the time being. Coaches will be cleaning between workouts to try to protect their players from any health issues connected to COVID-19.
The Southeast Conference presidents announced on May 22 to allow their member schools to open athletic facilities beginning June 8. Ole Miss and Mississippi State will open their campus this week to returning players. They will test players for COVID-19 and also educate players on safety procedures on how not to spread or contract the virus. Then on June 8, those players will be able to start player conditioning. All first year players will report on July 15. Of course, the schools have to obey federal, state, local and NCAA safety mandates during the pandemic.
While most National Football League teams will begin practice, the New Orleans Saints will not meet again until July in Metairie. It will then be six months since head coach Sean Payton has seen his full team. Payton stated the move is because the Saints have a lot of veteran players. I am sure quarterback Drew Brees will be working out in San Diego with selected Saints receivers before the entire team meets back in New Orleans on July 22. The Saints will open their preseason in the brand new $5 billion L.A. Rams Sofi Stadium in Inglewood on August 14. The Saints will then travel to both Pittsburg and Houston before hosting Miami in the final preseason game on September 3. The Saints will open the regular season on September 13 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs.
NASCAR race driver Brad Keselowski won Sunday at Bristol on the final lap as Chase Elliott and Joey Logano collided on the final lap to let Keselowski take the race. He also won with two laps to go in Charlotte last week.
The most famous running race in the world has been cancelled for 2020. The Boston Marathon will not be run for the first time in 124 years.
Dale is a Waynesboro resident who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973.