Bill Manning doesn’t have a definitive answer on when Toronto FC will play its next game. In truth, no one does amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the team’s president knows what will happen when Major League Soccer, and other sports, resumes.
“It will bring people back together,” he said on TSN Toronto 1050’s First Up. “Whenever you see — just with the Raptors winning the NBA championship, when TFC won in 2017 — you just saw this community come together with pride. That’s what I think sports does. It brings people together, it brings the community together, it allows you to celebrate.”
Those celebrations, and sports on the whole, are on pause with social distancing and stay-at-home mandates in Canada, the United States and across the globe.
“We live in a world where everyone wants to know yesterday, right? You want to know everything. But I think right now there’s still a lot of unknowns,” Manning said. “I am trying to stay optimistic, as we are with our staff, and trying to figure out how we can come out of this stronger and in some ways more together and get through this. It’s just that right now you don’t know when that will be.”
Manning, who also heads the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, said he and his staff remain optimistic the return to a semblance of normalcy can happen sooner than later. And the players are also putting their best foot forward.
“They’re staying positive, they’re staying connected with our virtual workouts, I’ve been making my rounds on phone calls as have Ali [Curtis] and Greg [Vanney],” Manning said. “For the most part they’re good. They’re keeping their minds about them and understanding the situation and keeping positive and that’s been the really good thing.”
Manning said with news rapidly changing about COVID-19, it’s led to a host of theories on when sports will come back and what it will look like when they do.
He also doesn’t think there’s a need to rush to those decisions right now.
“We’re all standing strong right now, collectively as a community and I know amongst the sports teams,” Manning said. “Hopefully when we start seeing cases go down and there’s no one dying anymore, God forbid, that we can then start to make plans to bring communities together and that’s what sports does.”