Top-flight professional football made its comeback in Germany last weekend after a two-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic. The scenes were a bit strange — the stands were empty, social-distancing rules forbade goal celebrations, and players on the bench wore face masks.
But while the silence in the stadiums was eerie, hearing the players and coaches communicating was an interesting bonus, and the return of the Bundesliga was a resounding success. Hertha Berlin was the only club whose players violated the ban against goal celebrations, Bundesliga supporters did not attempt to congregate outside the stadiums, and most importantly, the world was able to make professional football part of its weekend again. And boy was the world starving for that: TV ratings for the league’s return set new records.
The relatively smooth resumption of the Bundesliga will be a shot in the arm to sports leagues around the globe, including the English Premier League, whose Project Restart is targeting a return in just a few weeks. There have already been bumps in the road; this week the first round of league-wide COVID testing generated six positive results, and many players and managers have expressed reluctance to return to training and competition.
But the Bundesliga’s successful relaunch has provided at least some degree of validation of a blueprint for a return to sport. And make no mistake: Those TV ratings make it even more likely that the EPL’s stakeholders will find ways to prevail over any hurdles that stand in the way of a comeback.
Let me close by acknowledging that it is Memorial Day weekend in America. While all of us at Never Manage Alone admire the skill and athleticism of professional sports figures, the holiday serves as a reminder that our true heroes are those who have given their lives in the service of their country. Whether your nation celebrates its Memorial Day on Monday or not, let’s use our first round of drinks today to honor them.
Did you watch any of the Bundesliga action last week? What was your impression? What do you think the top two or three EPL hurdles are? How would you respond to them if you were in charge? Please share your thoughts with us in NMA’s virtual FPL & Fantrax Pub this week!