Returning to play: different opinions and the tension it may cause
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.
Sports are a distraction from the movement.
— Kenny Stills (@KSTiLLS) June 15, 2020
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.