As professional sports approach their respective “return-to-play” initiatives amid the coronavirus pandemic, several notable commissioners have agreed to sit down for a chat. In a panel discussion hosted by ESPN, league leaders will share their thoughts concerning the obstacles that lie ahead as U.S. sports resume.

Straight From the Commissioners’ Mouths

At 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg will host a conversation with the following league commissioners:

  • Roger Goodell (NFL)
  • Adam Silver (NBA)
  • Rob Manfred (MLB)
  • Gary Bettman (NHL)
  • Cathy Engelbert (WNBA)
  • Don Garber (MLS)
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SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports” will give league commissioners the opportunity to detail how their sports will approach the return-to-play concerning the following topics:

  • Health and safety for players and workers
  • Playing without fans
  • Broadcasting changes
  • The economic impact of COVID-19
  • Social justice reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death

“We are living through unprecedented times in this nation and around the world. I look forward to speaking with many of the most powerful people in the industry about the role sports can play in helping to bring about unity, healing, and meaningful change,” Greenberg said in a statement.

Stephanie Druley, an executive vice president at ESPN, said the panel will provide many answers that fans have been eagerly waiting to hear.

“Fans will hear directly from commissioners, managers, and athletes about the decisions they’ve made and the challenges they’ve faced throughout this unprecedented time, and what the resumption of sports will look like over the coming weeks and months.”

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Returning to Play During Pandemic

UFC, NASCAR, and the PGA have already resumed their 2020 seasons. But how are the remaining leagues’ return-to-play plans panning out?

The NBA: Professional basketball is set to resume at the end of July. There has been some pushback by players, however. Many are still concerned with their own safety amid the pandemic. There are also concerns that resuming the season could distract from the much-needed focus on racial injustice in America.

The NHL: Hockey is currently working through the details to resume its season with a 24-team playoff format held at two locations. Play will resume as early as mid-July.

The MLB: The owners and players association are at a standstill at the moment. The MLBPA recently rejected the league’s latest proposal. However, there are rumblings that Commissioner Rob Manfred may make a unilateral decision. He has the authority to order players back to play for a shortened 48-game season at 100% pro-rated pay.

The NFL: As of now, football teams are scheduled to report to training camp around the regular time frame of late July. The season has not been delayed but whether fans can attend games has yet to be determined.

The WNBA: The verdict is still out on when and if women’s basketball will resume. More than likely, fans will not be permitted. The league had already scheduled a month-long break due to the summer Olympics so it may be able to crown a champion by the projected end date of mid-October with an abbreviated schedule.

The MLS: Major League Soccer will return to play on July 8 with a 54-match tournament over 35 days. The “MLS is Back” tournament will be played without fans. It will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.