SPORTS ARE BACK! I repeat, SPORTS ARE BACK!

Sort of…

Like most sports fans, I was pumped to hear official start dates for the MLB and NBA seasons in recents weeks.

Quarantine and a global pandemic was (is?) hard and not having sports around either only made it that much more difficult to deal with.

Recently, however, several professional athletes have opted out of returning for their prospective seasons…

Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross from the Washington Nationals have both opted to not play. Mike Leake from the Arizona Diamondbacks has also stated he will not be participating in the 2020 season.

Lakers guard Avery Bradley also told ESPN last week that he will not be continuing in the 2020 season.

And you know what? I don’t blame them.

Last week 16 NBA players tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL recently announced that 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since they began voluntary workouts on June 8th.

I couldn’t find an exact number of how many MLB players or staff have tested positive for COVID-19, but there have been several.

I want sports to be back as much as the next person. I want Locker Room Sports to be able to bring you actual blogs about actual games and everything else that comes with sports being back.

But, I also understand.

Before these players are members of our favorite teams, they are parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, and friends and they have a responsibility to their loved ones and to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

I do acknowledge that it is a privilege to be able to “opt out” of going back to work—because playing their respective sport is their job.

It is not a luxury we all have, but I still respect their decision.

A lot of players have cited both the pandemic and the current social issues as a factor in their choosing not to return/participate.

If anything, I highly encourage you to read the emotional statement released by Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond regarding his decision to not participate in the 2020 season.

Regardless of you opinion about the global pandemic that is COVID-19, the reality is that it is scary. It’s unknown and we’re all doing our best to navigate the new normal.

Professional athletes are no different.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and don’t forget to wear your masks.