For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the return of live professional sports in the United States is fast approaching. On Tuesday, the NHL took a massive step forward in resuming its campaign by announcing it will jump straight into a 24-team playoff whenever public health officials deem it safe to do so.
Shortly thereafter, President Donald Trump's administration designated professional athletes as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The news was confirmed by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
A precise timetable for the NHL's return to action has yet to be provided, but this news gives it, and all other leagues, the green light to do just that as soon as mandatory health safeguards and hub cities are determined.
Pro athletes being deemed essential has been in the works for a while. There's still work to be done, but considering how much COVID-19's curve has flattened over the last month, this definitely appears to be a viable move by acting Director of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
Not only would sporting events come with needed economic benefits, but they would provide a long overdue sense of national unification. Americans need sports more than ever, and it's looking like we are inching closer to their greatly-anticipated return.