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Are sports coming back too early from COVID-19?

A rash of positive tests and actions could derail seasons before they even start.

The past three months have been rough for sports fans as all American major sports leagues have been shut down and yet to resume after the COVID-19 outbreak in March. 

While other leagues such as Bundesliga, Premier League, and the Korean Baseball Organization have resumed, Minnesota fans are crossing their fingers about the prospect of the Wild getting a shot at the Stanley Cup, the resumption of the Loons in MLS, the Lynx beginning their season, or even the Gophers and Vikings taking the field this fall.

But as positive tests roll in and leagues scramble for testing protocols, the question has to be asked if sports are coming back too early from the ongoing pandemic.

That's because this week has not been kind to those hoping for a quick comeback. On Friday, the PGA Tour's Nick Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage Tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.

Golf is a unique sport in this setting as players are socially distanced throughout the event. While this may not seem like a big deal one people can infect others in short order, which makes team sports an even bigger challenge to get going.

The NHL felt that burden on Friday as well, announcing that 11 players had tested positive for COVID-19 after opening their facilities to voluntarily workouts. In addition, the Tampa Bay Lightning had to close their facilities entirely after three players and several staff members tested positive.

Major League Baseball also took a step in the wrong direction, closing all 30 spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona after several teams reported positive cases in players and staff members.

The concerns could very well bleed into football season this fall and possibly beyond as Clemson University announced that 28 student-athletes have tested positive with 23 of those being football players. The University of Texas followed suit with 13 of their football players testing positive.

The news also spawned a report from the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein that this year's 2020 season has a 50 percent chance of being played at all. 

Even if it is, the University of Minnesota has prepared as if it will not be able to operate at 100 percent capacity at TCF Bank Stadium per the Star Tribune, adding another issue of which season ticket holders actually get into games.

Even the Vikings aren't safe after Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and several Houston Texans players tested positive this week.

This rash of positive tests – and a wider spike in cases nationally as the economy continues to open up and mask-wearing/social distancing is inconsistent at best – is putting a wrench into plans for some semblance of a 2020 season.

Sports fans will continue to hope, but the prospect of a return is looking shakier than it was a week ago.

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