American Sports Shouldn't Risk Copying Premier League's Bold Plan to Play During Coronavirus Outbreak

The Premier League's bold blueprint for resuming the 2019-20 season could inspire similar plans for American sports.
The Premier League's bold blueprint for resuming the 2019-20 season could inspire similar plans for American sports. / Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

If you're a Liverpool fan, your teeth have been gnashing for these last few weeks, probably for a good handful of reasons. The prohibitive Premier League leaders were closing in ever-closer on their first league title since England's top flight was re-christened in 1992 only to see soccer skid to a halt in just about every corner of planet earth due to the coronavirus threat.

Now, however, a bold plan has emerged courtesy of Miguel Delaney of The Independent that provides a potential roadmap for the resumption of the 2019-20 season this summer: keeping every team quarantined in its own base camp and playing every remaining game in England's Midlands region with help from the national government.

It all sounds crazy enough to work. But for a boatload of reasons, America's major sports leagues should absolutely not attempt to replicate this framework until there are ironclad, redundant assurances that COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic-level threat.

In England, the Midlands are the least-dense of the three cultural areas in terms of population, the others being Southern and Northern England. It makes sense that they might be ideal for building base camps and playing a ton of matches in June and July in relatively isolated fashion. America has a massive heartland, of course, but the simple fact remains that (1) our country is comically larger than England and makes the logistics therein far more difficult, and (2) we have four major sports leagues, MLS, and college sports to worry about.

Trying to arrange dramatically altered arrangements for the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS seasons, as well as NFL offseason activities, in unified coordination will be next to impossible.

And trying to force the issue when the extent of the public health risks are still not known is even more daunting. Even if there's TV money to be made, there's just too much at stake to try to emulate the EPL in this regard.

Kudos to the English soccer establishment for thinking big and trying to give hungry fans something to look forward to during these times. But we have to be careful about how this model translates elsewhere.