Rejoice, sports fans. Live competition is on its way back, albeit in a different form than we’ve experienced before.
Sporting events have been on a hiatus for a while now, leaving many to watch reruns of old PGA tournaments and past NBA finals. Thankfully, those who have ESPN or ESPN+ have been able to get by with documentaries like “Last Dance” and “30 for 30” films like the new “Be Water,” about the life of martial arts trailblazer Bruce Lee.
A few sports leagues have already commenced, while others are close to resuming. While it’s unlikely that stadium seats will be filled by fans, here’s what to expect when the live competition returns to the television.
One of the first live-action sports events to return, mixed martial arts fans have been treated to some pretty stacked cards for more than a month now. Look no further than UFC 249 last month inside an empty arena in Jacksonville when Justin Gathje methodically picked apart a tough Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title. The action won’t let up going into the summer with welterweight champion Kamara Usman and Gilbert Burns set to meet next month, while heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and No. 1 challenger Daniel Cormier square off for the third time in August.
Fans were delighted to see the return of racing in late May when NASCAR made its way to Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers enter their fourth race since returning with the Xfinity Series and Cup Series coming to Homestead-Miami Speedway on June 14. The races can be viewed Saturday and Sunday on FS1 and Fox.
A 22-team, eight-game wrap-up of the 2019-20 season will start July 31 inside Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. That will be followed with round 1 of the postseason on Aug. 18. The top nine teams in the east, including the Miami Heat, 41-24, and the top 12 teams in the west make up the 22 teams. The season will conclude in late August, with the draft lottery set for Aug. 25.
Twenty-four teams will compete in seeding round robins, a qualifying round and conference-based Stanley Cup playoffs in two cities. Training camps are set to begin next month, but it’s unknown when the season would begin. Timing and sites will be determined at a future date and will be dependent on COVID-19 conditions.
Major League Baseball is proposing a 76-game season that would see the season start on July 10 and end Oct. 11. It would also expand the postseason to 16 teams, eight in each league, for the 2020 season. Talks are ongoing between the league and the players association.
The PGA returns with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday, June 11. The Charles Schwab Challenge, which can be viewed on CBS and The Golf Channel, is the first of five tournaments that will be played without spectators. The John Deere Classic was scheduled to be the first event with spectators (July 9-12), but announced it would be taking this year off and has been replaced by another tournament in Columbus, Ohio.