What if, after all the planning and preparation that has occurred over the last number of months to restart the hockey, baseball, basketball and soccer seasons in North America, a number of high-profile players opt out due to concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic?
The National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association announced Monday that they had finalized a return to play protocol and agreed to a four-year extension of their collective bargaining agreement that sets the stage for training camps to begin July 13 and a return to action in two hub cities on Aug. 1.
The NHL, and every other league, has also made it abundantly clear that if their players want to press the eject button on 2020, they can do so.
Major League Baseball players like Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price and Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman have already opted out of the league’s 60-game season, and L.A. FC captain Carlos Vela is the biggest name to drop out of the upcoming ‘MLS is Back’ Tournament.
Heck, the entire FC Dallas team pulled out of the Major League Soccer spectacle on Monday after 10 players and one coach tested positive.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis says he decided to pull the parachute on returning this season after speaking on the phone with teammate Freddie Freeman, who has tested positive for COVID-19, calling it an “eye-opening’ conversation.
While the players mentioned are more or less household names, what if some of the biggest names in their respective sports pull out?
L.A. Angels slugger Mike Trout is sitting on the fence, and can you blame him? His wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child in about a month.
What happens if Trout, or Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James or Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, throw in the towel and look towards a fresh start next year?
There is going to be an asterisk beside every sports league in 2020 because of the unprecedented times that we are currently live in.
Odds are it won’t happen, but it might.
If the games’ greatest players decide to call it a year, that asterisk will only grow in size and significance.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.