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How Will Joe Biden Impact Sports?



Credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem (CC BY 2.0)

Every Sunday at Peng to the Point, we talk about the world away from the San Jose Sharks.

President-elect Joe Biden is probably not going to be as “sports-friendly” as outgoing President Donald Trump.

And in the middle of a pandemic, that’s okay.

Biden pledged in his victory speech yesterday: “On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as Transition Advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on January 20th, 2021.”

That’s a long time from now, for a virus that’s infected over 10 million Americans, killed over 237,000, and has shown zero signs of abatement.

Biden and Trump exhibited their differing attitudes toward sports in late July.

“It’s probably not going to be able to happen based on what the leagues themselves are saying,” Biden said about the MLB and NFL seasons. “They should just follow the science. The one thing that seems to work a little bit, I don’t know, is basketball, where no one’s traveling. They’re all sequestered in one place.”

The limited travel 2020 MLB season was completed — albeit by a thread, as Justin Turner was literally taken out of the dugout during Game Six of the World Series because of a positive COVID-19 test, which would’ve put Game Seven in question had the Dodgers not clinched the championship that night.

The limited travel NFL campaign is in Week 9, but will it make the Super Bowl? According to CBS Sports, as of Friday morning, half of the league’s 32 teams were dealing with one or more cases of the coronavirus.

On the other side of the aisle, Trump has consistently pushed for professional and college sports to play through the pandemic, saying: “I think Major League Baseball is setting an example by playing at empty stadiums, and so are other sports. I think it’s really good that baseball is opening, it looks like football is opening, it looks like sports are opening. It’s a tremendous thing for our country, psychologically.”

So what does this mean for the next NHL season, tentatively scheduled to open on New Year’s Day?

For sure, it would behoove Gary Bettman and company to consult with Biden’s team as soon as possible. Unlike the end of the 2019-20 season, which was completed in Canadian city bubbles, regular season games will probably need to be played in the United States.

There’s no telling where the US will be with the pandemic at the end of the calendar year — but it will probably not be good, as long as scenes like these are encouraged:

“Masks work, but they are not infallible,” Paul Digard, a virologist at the University of Edinburgh, advised. “And, therefore, keep your distance.”

Back to Biden: It appears he won’t be as dead-set to keep sports leagues “opening.”

The President-elect said yesterday that his plan to combat COVID-19 “will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy, and concern.”

Let’s hope so. And if that doesn’t include sports or spectators yet, that’s okay.

As hungry as we all are for a brand-new NHL season — especially those who follow one of the seven teams that hasn’t played since March — the coronavirus isn’t close to finished with us.

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