Welcome to a Summer of Sports, if All Goes Well

First there was a void. A formless, shapeless, sportsless few months with Belarusian soccer and exhibition table tennis darting about in the inky darkness.

May brought a glimmer: South Korean baseball, German soccer and mixed martial arts.

In June, the Premier League and golf joined the mix.

Now it’s July, and the pinprick of light has become bright. Sports is really, truly, finally coming back.

Pandemic willing.

They say it doesn’t feel like summer until baseball starts. This year, summer begins on July 23, when Major League Baseball gets underway, with a rapid-fire 60-game season.

There was a contentious labor negotiation, a few players have already opted out because of safety concerns, and stadiums will be empty. But players will be turning double plays, running 90 feet between bases and hitting home runs, just as they have for more than a century.

The final schedule hasn’t been released, but teams are expected to stay in their regions for the most part, until the playoffs and World Series, which will be held as normal.

N.B.A. teams are coming back, starting July 30. Well, 22 of them anyway. The league won’t bother bringing back the eight worst teams from the interrupted regular season — including the Knicks — figuring they wouldn’t have had a chance to make the playoffs anyway.

The league will start with eight regular-season games for each team, with all games played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Florida. Then the playoffs will begin, possibly slightly expanded: If the ninth-place team in either conference is within four games of the eighth-place team, it will get to participate in a play-in game for a berth. The playoffs will then proceed as usual.

When we left the league, the Milwaukee Bucks had the best record, with the Los Angeles Lakers the best in the West. A Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James finals would go a long way toward erasing memories of the league’s hiatus.

The W.N.B.A., a summer league, never got a chance to get started. It will now begin on a date to be determined in July with a shortened 22-game schedule at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Extending the season much past early October is not possible because so many of the players have contracts with European teams for the winter.

Sabrina Ionescu, formerly of Oregon and just drafted No. 1, will be the most-watched rookie in the league in years. Her arrival is much needed by her team, the New York Liberty, which has won just a quarter of its games over the last two seasons.

There will be no more regular-season games in the N.H.L., which will skip right to the Stanley Cup playoffs, expanded to 24 teams from 16. Games are likely to be played in two hub cities, which have yet to be determined. The starting date is also to be determined, probably in late July.

Eight teams that would not have made the playoffs under the usual format will have a second life, including the storied Montreal Canadiens, who were the last team from Canada to win the Cup, in 1993.

  • Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Last season’s Stanley Cup winners and runners-up, the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins, are at the top of their conferences again and will be among the teams getting byes.

M.L.S. will kick off its resumed season next Wednesday with the M.L.S. Is Back Tournament at Disney World. Teams will play three games that count toward the regular-season standings, then the top performing teams will advance to a playoff to decide the winner of the tournament.

After that, the regular season will resume with games planned at home sites. The M.L.S. Cup playoffs will be played as usual.

Formula One begins its season four months late with the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. The plan, for now, is to run eight races instead of the planned 22. The three-time defending champion is Lewis Hamilton, who is seven wins short of Michael Schumacher’s record 91.

Test cricket, the top level of the game, will return next Wednesday with a match between England and the West Indies in Southampton, England. For hygienic reasons, bowlers will no longer be able to spit on the ball as they have done for more than a century to get it to move as it approaches the batters.

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