2021 Sports Predictions
2020 was a weird year for sports. Never before has such a widely-consumed and commercialized product had to contend with the logistics (and fallout thereof) of dealing with a global pandemic.
Professional sports in America looked different and will likely continue to look and feel different for 2021. However, with progress and relief from the pandemic looming and sports politics taking a much-needed look in the mirror, we foresee some big changes to sports here in the US as well as around the globe.
Here are 3 sports predictions for 2021:
A Return to Normalcy with Vaccine Rollout
This one seems like a given. Not only are fans eager to get back to stadiums, but players, owners, managers, and boosters are all chomping at the bit for things to go back to normal. The good news is that with vaccines on the way, there’s a good chance that sports will return to a somewhat familiar sense of normalcy at some point in 2021.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s a good chance the first half of 2021 will look just like 2020, but once summer rolls around and more of the public is inoculated, there’s no doubt that we’ll start seeing fuller stadiums, packed watch parties, and more. The days of entire teams having to skip a game because of a COVID outbreak will soon be in the past.
The Summer Olympic Games Will NOT Take Place in 2021
We’re making a bold prediction here: the Tokyo Summer Olympic games will be cancelled again due to coronavirus concerns. Here’s why:
- Japan won’t be able to vaccinate enough people by summer 2021. If everything goes according to plan, Japan will inoculate 60 million people by summer, but there are issues with public sentiment around taking the vaccine.
- Coronavirus mutations are making COVID-19 extremely infectious - Japan, along with several other countries, experienced an influx in COVID cases due to a mutation that made the disease more infectious, further hindering Japan’s ability to control its January 2021 surge.
- Public sentiment is not on the side of the Olympics - a recent poll suggests that 80% of Japanese polled want the games postponed or cancelled amid COVID concerns.
- Most of Japan’s COVID problems are coming from tourists, not Japanese residents, so hosting an Olympics where people from all over the world come to your country might not be the best mitigation strategy.
If those reasons weren’t enough, this quote from the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee doesn’t sound too hopeful:
“The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing every moment,” its press office said via email. “…We hope that society will recover as soon as possible, and we will continue to work closely with all related parties and authorities in our preparations for holding safe and secure Games this summer.”
Atlanta Braves, Kansa City Chiefs, Others Will Have to Reconcile with Their Team Names
The “Washington Football Team” isn’t a name that necessarily inspired fear or pride. It’s useful. Much like teams of the past, the FKA Washington Redskins had to reconcile that their team name was inappropriate and insensitive to the U.S. Native American population. Some even found it derogatory. Donning the “Football Team” gave Washington a way to expunge their old moniker with something obviously temporary.
Changing your team name is a huge deal. There’s merchandising to consider, copyrights to claim, and let’s not forget making sure that it's something your fans are going to love.
In 2020, we fully expect to see other teams with names and mascots that are on the political correctness line to figure out what to do. In 2020, the Cleveland Indians announced they would be changing their name because amidst a wider push for professional sports teams to stop using Native American names and imagery. Teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs will have to take a good look at which side of history they want to be on and how much longer they keep their names without serious condemnation.