And what of the high-five, the huddle, the mob after a goal or a game-winning home run?
“It’s such a challenge, not just because of the virus, but how we play sports,” Comstock said. “The activities are so ingrained and part of the culture that even when the sport can be played safely, it’s not likely that the participant will be willing to adopt the guidelines needed to do that.”
“And that’s just the players,” she said.
Putting people in the stands is riskier and more complicated. In a recent New York Times survey of more than 500 epidemiologists, 64 percent said they would wait a year or more before attending a sporting event, concert or play. It was a higher percentage than any other activity.
“Not that I don’t love sporting events, but for me, the risk-reward ratio is wrong,” Mooney said.
Rutherford, at U.C.-San Francisco, expects there will be major college football in the fall, partly because there is so much money at stake, and also some fans — spread out, masked, maybe even tested.
“Ten, 12, 15,000 fans, mostly season-ticket holders? Yeah, that strikes me as doable,” he said. “Trying to fill up the Rose Bowl? That’s another issue.”
Mooney is more pessimistic. Even classes on most campuses are not certain.
“I think it’s unlikely that there will be football games at U.W. in the fall,” he said of Washington, a member of the Pac-12 Conference. “I’d be pretty outraged if I need to teach my class remotely, but the football stadium is filled with people who intermingle.”
Still, plans are emerging, clunkily. Major League Soccer has scheduled its return, but in a revised format and at a single site in Florida. On Monday, the W.N.B.A. announced plans for a shortened, single-site season, also beginning in July, though no schedule was released.
The same day, Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, said he was “not confident” that there would be a 2020 season, a week after saying “unequivocally” that he was “100 percent” sure there would be.