Rick Zamperin: Let’s face it, sports won’t be back any time soon

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the leaders of North America's other sports leagues remain in a holding pattern due to the coronavirus pandemic. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

I’d like to think that I am an eternal optimist, but I’m also a realist, and the likelihood of any sports league restarting any time soon is dwindling with each passing day because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, I don’t think the NHL or NBA will be able to end their seasons the way they want to, by presenting their champions with the Stanley Cup and Larry O’Brien Trophy.

It’s early April, and so there is no question that both leagues could launch into the playoffs in a couple of weeks — or even next month — but does anyone believe the COVID-19 crisis will be over by then?

Click to play video: 'Serge Ibaka thanks Toronto Public Health staff for work in responding to COVID-19'
Serge Ibaka thanks Toronto Public Health staff for work in responding to COVID-19

Despite physical distancing measures, people working from home, and the closure of non-essential businesses, we are still waiting for the outbreak to hit its peak in Canada and the United States.

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The NHL’s Gary Bettman and NBA’s Adam Silver were among 13 league commissioners who had a conference call about the ongoing pandemic with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, and Trump reportedly said that he hoped to have fans at sporting events by August and September.

Trump, you will recall, also hoped to have American workers back on the job by Easter.

It’s great to have hope — heck, I hope sports can resume tomorrow — but it doesn’t mean that it is going to happen.

The deadline for the NHL and NBA to ultimately make a decision on their 2019-20 seasons will come towards the end of April or beginning of May, and the way things are going, don’t be surprised if Bettman and Silver announce the cancellation of their campaigns at that time.

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Other leagues, like the CFL, MLB and MLS, which play most of their games during the summer, are also in a holding pattern and will likely remain in neutral for at least a couple more months, if not longer, because of COVID-19.

This may sound flippant, but should the basketball season be cancelled, at least the Toronto Raptors will remain NBA champions.

Then again, the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ Stanley Cup drought will also continue if the NHL season is scrapped. Who am I kidding? There was never going to be a parade for the Leafs this summer.

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