In case you missed the memo, there is a deadly pandemic raging outside, and it’s not going to subside just because American leagues are playing catch up with their Asian and European counterparts, which have cautiously and largely successfully resumed play, as is their reward for flattening their respective coronavirus curves. America’s “curve,” meanwhile, looks more like an inverse ski jump. The return of MLS — and the NBA, NHL, and MLB right behind it — serves only to emphasize just how woefully unprepared the American leagues are for this step, because America itself has utterly failed in its response to the pandemic.
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times explained it perfectly on Tuesday in his weekly soccer newsletter. “When the nation awoke on the morning of March 12, 1,323 Americans had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 38 people had died,” he wrote. “The general concern and panic were so great, MLS and every other professional league in the country suspended play.” But on the eve of soccer’s return, “twice as many Americans test positive for COVID-19 every hour today. And we’re averaging nearly 15 times as many deaths per day now as we had total on March 12.” As Baxter asks, “if it was too risky to play then, why is it safe to come back now?”