Where to finds sports in a sports-less world

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Jack Hoover
SPORTS EDITOR 

Fans of Taiwan’s national baseball team. Taiwan currently has one of the only active leagues in the world. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org.

For weeks now, sports stadiums and arenas everywhere have gone dark, as almost leagues across the world have suspended play in order to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

For many sports fans, this has spelled disaster. Many are left with plenty of free time on their hands as they sit around at home during quarantine. But with no sports to entertain them, this has become a curse instead of a blessing.

There is some hope, however, for those who want to watch sports and are willing to look for it. As the spread of the virus starts to slow down in certain parts of the world, some teams and leagues are resuming play. Here’s a look at some ways to get your sports fix, if you find yourself missing it more than ever.

Chinese Professional Baseball League

In the United States right now, this should be one of the best times of the year for baseball fans. After it’s long winter hibernation, Major League Baseball would finally be returning to a country that is yearning to indulge itself its national pastime. March 26 should have been the league’s Opening Day, but now there are questions of whether there will be an Opening Day in 2020.

In small measure of hope though, there is still baseball being played half the world away: the Chinese Professional Baseball League based in Taiwan. Due to preventative measure taken by the Taiwanese government, including strict travel limitations that put a ban on nearly all foreign nationals entering the country, the island nation has done its part to keep the pandemic in check. At the time of writing, Taiwan has only seen six deaths due to the virus.

With low infection and death rates in Taiwan, the decision was made for the CPBL to begin season play on April 11. Many of the games are being broadcast online in English for free. So for those willing to lose some sleep to watch teams such as the Chinatrust Brothers and Rakuten Monkeys square off against one another, the option is out there.

Belarusian Premier League

While Taiwan has seemingly done all the right things in order to allow its sports leagues to start up play again, Belarus seems to have done just the opposite. Belarusian president Alexander Lukashen has received criticism for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he says will be defeated by “saunas. Vodka and tractors.” Lukashen has made no efforts to quarantine the eastern European nation of 9 million.

As a result, the Belarusian Premier League, or the Vysheyshaya Liga remains the only league in Europe still in play. Fans are still showing up to the stadiums for matches and teams such as BATE Barisov and FC Dinamo Brest are crisscrossing the country to play competitive games.

For fans missing soccer, the Vysheyshaya Liga has been a light in the darkness. For those citizens in Belarus who are concerned about the virus, however, the league playing brings only the threating of spreading COVID-19. Supporter groups across the country, such as those of Neman Grodno and Shakter Soligorsk have called on their members to stop attending the games until it is safe to do so. Whether any of these boycotts will put pressure on the league remains to be seen, but until then, the Vysheyshaya Liga plays on.

Horse Racing

According to the Equine Disease Communication Center, horses are at a low risk for COVID-19. They can get the disease, but the frequency of transmission is low and severity of the disease only rarely life threatening. So, while many human-based sports are being shut down, horse racing is still up and running across the country.

Some of the bigger events that would be taking place around this time – like the Kentucky Derby – have been postponed until the fall, but for some of the smaller, more local races, the show goes on. The decision to close down the races varies by state, with Nebraska being one of the states to still allow racing to take place.

While no spectators are allowed to attend the events, online betting is still allowed for the majority of the races. So, for those seeking organized competition with winners and losers, horse racing may have to do.

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