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SportsColumnistsNeil Best

What an autumn sports calendar it could be!

The Masters logo is pictured during the presentation

The Masters logo is pictured during the presentation ceremony at the end of the Masters Tournament in 2016 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/NICHOLAS KAMM

The best part of what would be the most squished-together autumn in the history of American sports is that if it happens, it will mean the country has made a relatively fast recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second-best part would be . . . well, the most squished-together autumn in the history of American sports.

What could be better for fans if this spring of our discontent turns into a fall in which the rest of us can stop doing jigsaw puzzles at home and instead watch media executives work on scheduling jigsaw puzzles.

Take the weekend of Nov. 14-15, the “intended dates” The Masters announced on Monday for its postponed golf tournament, originally set for this week.

“We hope the anticipation of staging the Tournament brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and those who love the game,” the green jackets said in a statement.

Yeah, and the rest of us, too!

Not only is The Masters cool even for casual golf fans, in this case there would be added drama as CBS’ most cherished partnership comes up against CBS’ (and everyone else’s) most cherished ratings juggernaut.

On Nov. 14, college football games are scheduled to be played. On Nov. 15, NFL games are scheduled to be played.

Might CBS have to demote The Masters to its CBS Sports Network? (Apologies to any Augusta National officials who might have read that sentence and fainted. Someone please help them up.)

Here is what CBS said regarding that weekend’s potential gridlock: “We are working very closely with our partners to ensure coverage of our live sports programming.”

So . . . CBS Sports Network it is! Just kidding. The Masters would sooner play without cameras at all. (By the way, sunset in Augusta, Georgia, on Nov. 15 is at 5:25 p.m.)

Meanwhile, the PGA Championship now is scheduled for Aug. 6-9, the U.S. Open for Sept. 17-20 and the Ryder Cup for Sept. 25-27. (The British Open has been canceled.)

Golf would seem to be a better bet to return than most sports, given that it is played outdoors over wide social-distance expanses. So, maybe.

Elsewhere, Major League Baseball is considering regular-season games in October and playoff games in November.

And the NHL has said that even if it cannot finish its current season, its priority is to start next season on time, which would be in October.

College football and the NFL hope to start on time in late August and early September.

The tennis U.S. Open still is scheduled to conclude on Sept. 13, with the French to follow on Oct. 4. (Wimbledon is off.)

The Kentucky Derby? Sept. 5. The Preakness and Belmont? TBD.

The Boston Marathon was moved to Sept. 14. The New York City Marathon still is on Nov. 1.

Naturally, every event and date written above is tentative. All near-and-intermediate-term plans are pretty much tentative at this stage.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom already has said he is not so sure about fans in the stands for NFL games in his state come September, and there are three teams that play home games in his state.

It’s fluid. It’s all fluid.

If things go poorly on the health care front, the entire sports calendar could be shoved into early 2021, at which point things might as well just reset and we will pick up where we left off on March 11 when Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus.

But for now there is hope, both for better days and for sports’ return, with the promise of a late summer and early autumn traffic jam. (Speaking of the Indy 500, that was moved to Aug. 23.)

Nov. 15 would bring the most delicious, most welcome scheduling challenge of all.

Fore!

FAB FALL

Sept. 5: Kentucky Derby

Sept. 5: First big weekend of college football

Aug. 31-Sept. 13: U.S. Open tennis championship

Sept. 10-13: NFL Week 1 (tentative, not officially announced)

Sept. 14: Boston Marathon

Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open golf

Sept. 21-Oct. 4: French Open

Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup

Nov. 12-15: Masters Tournament

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