An aerial view of Nationals Park in southeast D.C. shows a military display of U.S. flags prior to the Washington Nationals' 2018 home opener against the New York Mets on April 5. (John E. De Freitas/The Washington Informer)
An aerial view of Nationals Park in southeast D.C. shows a military display of U.S. flags prior to the Washington Nationals' 2018 home opener against the New York Mets on April 5. (John E. De Freitas/The Washington Informer)

The Washington Nationals are tentatively scheduled to take on the New York Yankees in D.C. on Thursday, July 23, as team sports begin to return after months of being shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime-time affair between the World Series champs and the perennial powerhouses from New York, kicks off an abbreviated 60-game schedule, making it a sprint to the postseason.

The NBA returns one week later on Thursday, July 30, with contests between the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans, and an all-Los Angeles battle that pits the Lakers vs. the Clippers.

The Wizards return Friday, July 31, with a 4 p.m. contest. All of the NBA’s games for the remainder of the season will be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The return of team sports is seen by some as a welcome diversion amid the pandemic that has caused the death of at least 120,000 Americans and the ongoing uprisings taken place throughout the country and across the globe in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Boxing legend and Palmer Park, Maryland, native Sugar Ray Leonard said sports — particularly the sweet science — saved his life. He said the return of competition is an important milestone.

“It gave me an opportunity to provide for my parents, help my siblings, help my friends, and help my community,” Leonard said. “I’m a blessed man. I won the Olympics in 1976 and had every intention of going to the University of Maryland to further my education and get a good job.

“I had no intention of turning pro because I heard about fighters getting taking advantage of financially,” he said. “My father was in the hospital, my mother was crying, my family was crying, and my mentor Janks Morton said I should turn pro. I made the right decision to take care of my family. My dad passed away just a couple of years ago, and my mother is 91. Life is what you make it.”

Still, the return of sports isn’t without hiccups. Numerous reports show that since most states have reopened, the virus has begun spreading more. According to various reports, Major League Baseball has already had 40 players and staff tests positive for COVID-19 within the last week.

In the NFL, four players from the Dallas Cowboys and four from the Houston Texans tested positive for COVID-19, including Cowboys superstar Ezekiel Elliott. Two players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one of the team’s assistant coaches tested positive, and a member of the San Francisco 49ers also was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

A number of college football players, including those from Clemson, the University of Houston, University of Texas, and Rutgers, have also tested positive.

More than 45,000 new cases in the United States were reported on Friday, June 26, the third consecutive day with a record total. Global infections reportedly have approached 10 million.

“Sports that are being played in October and November run a real risk of being unable to happen at all due to a [potential] second wave of the coronavirus that could hit the country hard,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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