Eventually, the sports world will get back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, right along with the rest of the world.
What constitutes “normal,” though? It may be different than what we determined before—and in many ways, it should be.
But what does this mean for sports?
If Dr. Anthony Fauci has his way, one of the changes in sports would impact one of hockey’s favorite traditions: post-series handshakes in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you,” Fauci said on a Wall Street Journal podcast, as quoted by CNBC. “Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country.”
The fix for hockey should be easy enough: keep gloves on and exchange bumps, as players already do to congratulate each other during games. Same for baseball, where there’s no need for players to shake hands after a win. Players could dump Powerade on each other, but that’s wasteful and leads to exorbitant cleaning bills.
It turns out that Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, and the A’s had it right all along. The Lonely Island tried to tell us last year, before the coronavirus pandemic started: “If you want a high five, that’s a no-no.” LET’S BASH!
In the NFL, they’re already on board with proper protocols. Tom Brady offers an ungloved high-five to Julian Edelman? No thank you! But former Philadelphia Eagles teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Jordan Hicks? Gloved fives, and shielded face bump for the win!
Things might be more complicated in basketball, where slapping fives after free throws is so routine. Players from JaVale McGee to DeMar DeRozan have dapped with invisible teammates after shooting on technical fouls. Maybe Adam Silver was on to something when he left Steph Curry hanging in 2016.
What can the NBA do? The players aren’t wearing gloves, but Russell Westbrook has been a pioneer in contactless celebration, even with teammates, so best to get the former MVP on the case.
Soccer should be pretty easy, as players already are used to doing things without using their hands, but there still may be a learning curve. At least, everyone should remember that, if a player scores, an appropriate congratulation is not “squeezing his team-mate’s penis and balls.”
Actually, that applies across all sports as we all learn to act better together in the name of public health.