By Peter Brennan
Okay, here’s the thing about sports fans.
We are in love with asterisks.
Roger Maris got one in 1961 because he broke Babe Ruth’s record for home runs in eight more games than the Babe played in 1927.
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire got them because they were juiced on steroids when bashed their homers in 1998.
So, it’s not surprising that there will be a boatload of asterisks assigned to the 2020 sports season.
COVID-permitting, we’re finally entering the period of uninterrupted sports bliss we’ve been anticipating for months.
Given the unusual circumstances, it’s worth considering how each season will be remembered years from now. So we pose the question: Do sports in 2020 need an asterisk?
The answer is complicated, given the wide-ranging continuum of where these seasons stood when the pandemic upended the world, along with the decades of history, tradition and statistical records that each league must honor and respect.
The NBA and NHL had both nearly completed their regular seasons, so division champions, statistical leaders and individual awards can be viewed without any real caveat. But what if LeBron James and the Lakers win the championship at Disney World? Will it truly be considered his fourth “ring” and the team’s 17th?
MLS hit pause eight days after kicking off, and MLB and the NWSL had yet to even start. Entire “seasons” played amid a pandemic will surely yield more spirited debates regarding their legitimacy.
Sometimes, asterisks are used to convey context and indicate that further explanation is necessary. Other times, they have a more negative connotation and indicate that something should be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps dismissed altogether.
Sports in 2020 are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. But we can still enjoy them for what they are and let historians worry about applying the asterisks later.
And who knows, perhaps those asterisks will ultimately have a positive connotation, ensuring that future generations of fans respect each 2020 sports title as something special, rather than dismissing them as flukes.
“A lot of people say that there’s gonna be a star next to this championship. I feel like, at the end of the day, this is gonna be the toughest championship you could ever win.”
— Giannis Antetokounmpo