May: The Month That Sports, Kind of, Come Back

The month of April in sports was almost barren. Live events amounted to a ragtag collection of badminton from Armenia, short-format ice hockey from Russia and video games.

But the moribund sports world may finally be stirring to life in some places. May is looking like it will be remembered as the month when sports started coming back from coronavirus-related hiatuses.

To be sure, many sports are a long way from resuming full, normal schedules and many look likely to skip 2020 entirely. But fans this month may finally get a chance to see some real live sports on television, if not in person, and to check box scores and statistics again.

Here’s a look at events that are on the calendar for May, with the caveat that in an ever-shifting world, some could well drop off again.

The traditional May showpiece, the French Open, has been moved to September. But there will still be tennis matches to watch this month, even with the ATP and WTA tours still paused.

Lower-ranked players have been competing in such exhibitions for a few weeks. And on May 8 to 10, four top 100 players — Tennys Sandgren, Matteo Berrettini, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul — will face off in a mini-tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla., played on a private hardcourt and broadcast on Tennis Channel. The tournament will be singles only, with just one match official to respect social-distancing requirements.

For his part, Sandgren said he’d “play tennis in a hazmat suit, just to go compete. I’m itching.”

Alison Riske, Amanda Anisimova, Danielle Collins and Ajla Tomljanovic will compete in a women’s event in West Palm on May 22 to 24.

The Florida events, held with no spectators, could provide a path forward for tennis in the coming months.

There are still virtual matches being played, too. You can also catch Serena and Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka and Maria Sharapova, among others, competing in a video game tennis tournament — the “Stay at Home Slam” — on May 3. It will be streamed on Facebook.

No sport is more closely associated with spring in America than baseball, and the sport’s healing quality means that the return of peanuts and crackerjack will be a key milestone in the coming of normalcy.

Major League Baseball is not coming back in May — late June is the most optimistic timetable — but it is being played in Asia. The South Korean league has been holding exhibitions since April 21 and will start its regular season on May 5.

In Taiwan, the Chinese Professional Baseball League has been playing since April, and if that is not thrilling enough, consider this quote from The Taiwan Times this week: “My goal for 2020, is to find a roster spot in the C.P.B.L. I have been itching to get back in the batter’s box and be able to compete again.” The speaker? Former M.L.B. All-Star Manny Ramirez, 47. Now that would be something exciting for May.

Even as France and the Netherlands announced that they were abandoning their seasons, some top leagues are pressing on with plans for resumption.

Furthest along of the major leagues is Germany’s Bundesliga, where May 16 is being considered as a possible start date for spectator-free matches. The return date has already been pushed back once, and of course could be again.

The Portugese League is also aiming for a quick restart and could begin the last week of May. And there’s always the Belarusian Premier League, which has been plugging away, virus or no virus, since mid-March.

The U.F.C. has been in the forefront of pro sports leagues pushing for a return to action, floating ideas like having fights on a private island.

Although several events were tentatively scheduled or proposed, then canceled, there are three cards coming this month in Jacksonville, Fla., that at this hour are still on.

The first, on May 9, features bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defending his belt against Dominick Cruz, and a lightweight bout between top-five contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. The other events are scheduled for May 13 and 16.

The Indy 500 has been postponed to August, but NASCAR drivers are expected to start trading paint again on May 17 at Darlington. There are several more races scheduled before the month is out, including the major Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 at Charlotte.

A few smaller tracks and at least one major one, Gulfstream Park in Florida, raced on without fans through March and April. Oaklawn Park will hold two divisions of the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.

There will be no Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May; it has been moved to September. But Churchill Downs will resume racing on May 16.

The early Diamond League events and, of course, the Olympics have been postponed. But three top pole-vaulters — world champion Sam Kendricks, European champion Armand Duplantis, and the 2012 Olympic gold medallist Renaud Lavillenie — will compete Sunday, with each vaulting in his own location.

Because bringing in officials to raise the bar height might prove dangerous, the three will compete to see which one can clear 5 meters (16 feet, 5 inches) the most times in 30 minutes.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *