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The Royal Watch: Will the NWSL season ever start?

Like much of the sports world, the NWSL 2020 season is on hold. Will it start? Better question, should it?

2020 NWSL Draft Photo by Jose Argueta/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Hey, everyone. I hope that if you’re reading this, you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Looking at the calendar, this weekend was to be the start of the 2020 NWSL season. Utah Royals FC would open the season against the Portland Thorns at Providence Park.

There would be many firsts. The first game for head coach Craig Harrington, and the first game without Becky Sauerbrunn as a Royals player, instead playing with Portland, to name a couple.

But the world pandemic COVID-19 has changed everything. Sports are on hold, as they should be, because the safety and health of people is what matters most. As of writing this on a cold April morning, many of us are in some sort of stay-at-home order to practice social distance and flatten the curve. The idea of some sort of normalcy, like having a soccer season, as the virus spreads without a vaccine or effective treatment, seems impossible.

Lisa Baird, the NWSL Commissioner, recently announced plans to begin the season at the end of June. If so, that date would be Saturday, June 27, two months away. This is obviously a tentative date, and it could change. With that tentative start date, there’s also a risk. The virus may still be lingering, perhaps not as severe as it has this spring, but still enough to be a risk.

And if the NWSL has to push the date for another month until July, does the NWSL season even start at that point? By then, perhaps the question should be, should it even start? I know we all want soccer back (I know I do), but is it worth the risk? And if it does come back, it will be with some guidelines, and what does that look like?

Will they play in empty stadiums for the sake of keeping the league alive? There’s no doubt that the longer this goes, the more it will impact the NWSL. Do they allow fans to attend but sit six feet apart? Check everyone’s temperature entering stadiums? Will non-essential travel even be allowed by then?

These are just the questions I’ve been wondering, and I’m certain there is a back up plan should June 27 not be the ideal date. Perhaps our best outcome is if people really do abide by the guidelines to stay home as much possible, so we can crush this virus. As my fellow RSL Soapbox editor Lucas Muller would say, “Wait and see.”

Thanks for reading!

Please wash your hands, stay home, and take care, friends!