Goldstein: Fans Will Have Surplus of Options on TV When Sports Return

With all of the major professional sports leagues preparing to resume (or begin) their seasons since suspending play in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the burning question is not if fans will watch the games, races, matches, or events on television.

Rather, the burning question emerges: what will they watch?

Once August rolls around, fans could experience a buffet of sporting options on the tube like they’ve never seen before. There is a real possibility that all five major professional sports leagues, as well as Triple Crown races, NASCAR, and PGA events, will overlap each other on the same day and at the same time.

After being fed a steady diet by national and regional TV outlets of classic baseball, hockey, football, and basketball highlights while sports were halted, fans better prepare themselves for an overload of live programming.

And since fans will likely not be permitted to attend any games in-person, the only way to catch all of the thrills is through their TV, tablet, or phone.

Don’t believe how busy the sports landscape will look? Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on tap later this summer and fall:

  • Major League Soccer is slated to lead off with its MLS is Back Tournament on July 8, followed by a truncated regular season beginning in August.
  • The NBA returns to the hardwood on July 31 with an eight-game regular season for 22 of its 30 teams, followed by a full postseason.
  • In early August, the NHL welcomes 24 of its 31 clubs back for a round-robin and postseason qualifying round which will lead to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • If the owners and players get their acts together, baseball is expected to begin a shortened season at some point in July with the potential for an extended postseason.
  • NFL camps are on track to open in August. There are rumors each team will play as few as two preseason games to help prepare for the regular season, which is scheduled to start in September.
  • The PGA Championship is set to be held from Aug. 6 to Aug. 9, while the U.S. Open has been pushed to Sept. 17 through Sept. 20.
  • For the first time in history, the Belmont Stakes opens the first leg of the Triple Crown on June 20. Nearly 10 weeks later, The Kentucky Derby will be held on Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes caps the series on Oct. 3.

In case you lost count, that’s at least seven different major sports happening in August and September … and we haven’t even mentioned men’s and women’s tennis majors, key NASCAR races, or college football.

This scenario sounds like a sports fan’s dream, right?

Just picture what a Saturday in late September might look like. You could have college football games during the day and NBA and NHL Finals games at night. Then, your Sunday is filled with NFL games, baseball teams in the middle of the pennant race, and NASCAR’s Cup Series.

However, be careful what you wish for as it could turn into a logistical nightmare on a local front.

For instance, imagine you’re a Boston fan. It’s conceivable that the Celtics and Bruins each have a playoff game, the Red Sox are facing the Yankees, and the Patriots have their first preseason game as they begin the post-Tom Brady era. This could all take place on a Thursday in mid-August around 7:00 p.m.

After all, it might be a good idea to create a spreadsheet just to keep track of when your favorite sports and teams are playing, and especially on what channel or streaming platform they are being aired.

Sure, most of the nation would probably prefer a normal sports schedule that is spread out over 12 months. As we have learned these last three trying months, though, these are hardly normal times.

So, for now, continue to enjoy the peace and quiet of the re-airings of a recent NBA Finals battle, Roy Halladay’s perfect game, or the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory over the Niners. Heck, go ahead and watch all 10 episodes of The Last Dance again.

Just remember, though: live professional sports are back in less than a month and it’s never too early to begin planning what to watch.

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