Are you not entertained? – The return of sporting battles

Welcoming the reappearance of our modern gladiators.

The NRL has already been back. The AFL is now back. The English Premier League, NBA, MotoGP and F1 will be coming back soon enough, much to the relief of many fans around the world.

Delighting a number of my friends, the NRL returned to action on the 28th of last month, the first major sporting code to do so in this country. A few rounds in and there seems to be no hiccups so that is good news. AFL kickstarted their season reboot last night with Collingwood vs Richmond at the M.C.G., with much being said in recent months about playing “hubs” and state border closures (of W.A. and S.A.). There will be no crowds in the immediate future and games have only been scheduled for the next four weeks to allow for flexibility in uncertainty.

The English Premier League will begin playing games from next Wednesday, the 17th (or early Thursday morning for us Australians), headlined by Arsenal vs Man City. For TV broadcasts, to substitute the crowd noises, Sky Sports are going to be utilising simulated crowd sounds from EA’s FIFA 20 video game. Inserts “strange times” for the thousandth time. FFA is set to announce when the A-League can resume training sometime this week, hopefully, as frustrations continue to mount. People have voiced their disapproval over a perceived lack of transparency and silence regarding the restart of the league and the pay deals and broadcasting concerns. For the sake of local fans, I hope we can get some clear answers as to when training and games will resume, especially considering other major sporting codes have already started.

MotoGP has just released a calendar for their revised 2020 season, starting with back-to-back weekends at the Jerez circuit on July 19 and 26. This will be followed by three rounds in August; Brno, Czech Republic (9th) and another back-to-back, this time from the Red Bull Ring in Austria (16th & 23rd). It’ll be great to see the men in leather in action again…so to speak haha!

The recent news of Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s move from Renault to McLaren for 2021 (and Carlos Sainz Jr from McLaren to Ferrari, started by Sebastian Vettel’s non re-signing with Ferrari) has taken the attention away from the season start in early July. The Red Bull Ring in Austria will host the opening two rounds of the season on the weekends of the 5th and 12th of July. Only eight races so far have been confirmed (all European), but more is expected in due course.

I left the NBA until last because it is the most strange and convoluted and the exact schedule is still up in the air. Only 22 of the 30 teams will take part in the season restart to be held at the Walt Disney World’s Sport Complex in Orlando, Florida. The 22 teams were selected from the 16 already in playoff contention (8 per conference) plus those within six games of making a playoff seed (which adds up to 13 Western conference teams and 9 from the East, hence 22 in total). Multiple sources say the season will start on July 31 with teams training at their own facilities, but the exact start of the supposed 8 game regular season remains anyone’s guess. The playoffs are expected to start around mid-August with the Finals to begin at the end of September. There are some other technicalities, especially with regards to seedings and potential elimination games, but I won’t bore you with them.

So, there you have it, a quick rundown of the schedules of some the major sports returning to action in the near future and those who already have. It’s going to be good seeing these combatants duelling it out in the socially acceptable form of warfare that is sport!

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