Across the United States, sports leagues are gearing up to get back into action, or at least planning to do so, even while the coronavirus death toll surges toward 100,000 and tens of thousands of new cases a day are being diagnosed.
Major League Baseball is in the middle of a contentious negotiation with the players’ union, with a new proposal on economics expected in the coming week. The NHLPA, meanwhile, agreed with a league proposal for a restart format after a surprisingly calm series of talks, though more negotiations are needed to determine when, where, and how they’ll actually put that plan into place.
Those return-to-play plans are happening alongside a heated debate about “reopening” states in America, including Donald Trump calling for churches to be allowed to hold in-person services. Arguments about this aren’t about stopping the virus, as every bit of evidence is that going back to behavior resembling normal is a ticket to a second wave of the virus. It’s about whether the United States should decide that having its citizens die is acceptable, so long as the economy (read: the investor class) can rebound and people living in relative luxury get to stop feeling bad about being inconvenienced.
In countries with functioning governments, like Germany and South Korea, sports are back, but that was only able to happen after containment of the virus. In Mexico, where the crisis is worsening, they’re also doing the smart thing, and abandoning the 2020 Liga MX Clausura.
The plan in Mexico had been to resume soccer without fans in July, which should sound familiar to American sports fans, but after this week’s news that eight players for Santos Laguna tested positive for COVID-19, the decision was made to turn the suspension of the season into a cancellation. Proximity to an irresponsible neighbor also has to be considered when it comes to why Mexico would worry that the recent spike in coronavirus cases will continue into the summer.
Mexico’s soccer season is split into two halves, the Apertura and the Clausura. Liga MX will work with government health authorities to determine when it’s safe to start the Apertura, but whenever that does happen, it will be behind closed doors.
Obviously, some sports leagues in America are in a similar situation, both at the college and professional levels. But Liga MX is the most important sports enterprise in Mexico, as important there as the big leagues here. Even with the rising tide of the virus south of the border, Mexico still is diagnosing 10% of the number of new daily cases per day as the United States, at one-third as high a rate on a per-capita basis.
But it’s Mexico that’s cancelling the soccer season. The United States is gearing up to play games — and by doing so, playing games with people’s lives.