Every-Thing Sports

Returning to play: different opinions and the tension it may cause

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

As we await for things to return to normal, we must also adjust to a new normal. Gone are the days of going out and socializing in crowds. Instead, we practice social distancing and wear masks. Some sports have returned to play, but they're all playing in front of empty stands. Even pro wrestling has staged fellow wrestlers around the ring as a pseudo-audience. Some government officials are pushing for reopening in order to stimulate the economy, while others are seeing a spike in positive COVID-19 cases and want things to flatten out with more restrictions. That being said, we still have several major sports that aren't back yet.

The NBA and NHL cut their seasons short when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. MLB stopped during Spring Training. The NFL and college football were both lucky enough to be in their offseasons, so they haven't been impacted yet. Talks have started as to when, where, and how some of these season will either resume or begin and how this will all look. Couple all of this with the recent protests on police brutality and how athletes have been taking a stand, there's a real powder keg brewing. Some players are ready to get back to work, while others are against it. So how could this play out when it comes to team chemistry?

It could hurt

Pessimism prevails in the minds of those who naturally feel the worst case scenario is unavoidable. Whenever there is a difference of opinion (especially strong ones), it can always turn out bad. For example: Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills has some concerns about returning to sports that aren't necessarily COVID related, which he expressed on Twitter.

He undoubtedly has teammates who don't feel the same way. Imagine the conversations J.J. Watt and Stills could have. You think they'll agree on things? What happens if their opinions collide, and they're unable to find common ground? This could bring about some division.

It could help

Optimism is the outlook of the eternal positive thinker. When optimists are able to attract others closer to their point of view, it can lead to some productivity. Not necessarily saying they're convincing people to agree with them, but healthy conversations and finding some common ground can open the door to better days ahead. Austin Rivers of the Rockets was outspoken about coming back to play in response to Kyrie Irving's opinion of not coming back. What if Rivers and Irving were teammates with these differing opinions? Opposites attract. In those cases, this could be a catalyst for positive change. Guys with a chemistry and relationship could easily work things out and help create a more communicative environment to promote impactful change.


Not only could something like this help or hurt, but what if it made matters worse? What if these discussions were so disagreeable that it caused teammates to truly question whether or not guys had their backs? What if they were so agreeable, it caused guys to switch stances on key issues, and they're now seen as the enemy? I highly doubt any of this happens, but there's always the possibility. My hope and prayer is that this leads to healthy and productive discussions, regardless of which side of the argument people fall on. That is the only way we'll ever get through our differences as a society.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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