The Washington Nationals practice for the upcoming shortened baseball season in an empty Nationals Park on July 9. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted plans to restart several sports. Baseball training was delayed, Major League Soccer teams dropped out of the league tournament and colleges have canceled or limited fall sports. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
KidsPost sports columnist

Playing sports is good for kids for a lot of reasons. They are a fun way to get exercise and a great way to make friends and learn how to be a good teammate.

Sports are also important because they are a reality check: Kids may think they are going to be the next LeBron James or Serena Williams, but when they start competing they usually find out they have a long way to go.

That can be a humbling but valuable lesson. If you want to do well with any sport, you have to work at it. There are no shortcuts. You can’t just say you are terrific; you have to prove it on the field, on the court and in the game.

Sports certainly provided a reality check in March when the novel coronavirus began to spread in the United States. When Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and college tournaments shut down, many people started thinking: “This virus must be really serious.”

Sadly, sports may be providing another reality check for our country. Recently, several major sports have made efforts to restart their games, but the novel coronavirus has caused some problems.

FC Dallas celebrates a goal during a 2019 game in Frisco, Texas. The team dropped out of this summer’s Major League Soccer tournament because several of its players contracted covid-19. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

● Two teams — FC Dallas and Nashville SC — dropped out of the Major League Soccer tournament because several of their players tested positive for the coronavirus.

●The Big Ten conference announced that its college football teams will play only nine games against in-conference opponents this fall instead of the full 12-game schedule. Some people fear there will be no college football season in 2020.

●The Ivy League conference announced that its eight member schools will not play football or any other fall sports this year.

● Several baseball players, including the Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, said they will not play in the shortened 60-game 2020 MLB season because of concerns about the virus.

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, shown during spring training February 19, has announced that he will not play in Major League Baseball’s shortened season because of coronavirus concerns. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

● Some MLB practices, including the Nationals’, were postponed because of delays in processing the players’ tests for the virus.

●Even though 24 of the NHL’s 31 teams are in the United States, the league announced it will play its 24-team playoffs in two Canadian cities.

Despite a lot of talk by President Trump about the virus “getting under control” and the country being ready to open, the United States has not contained the novel coronavirus, as recent data shows.

The United States leads the world in confirmed covid-19 deaths, with nearly 137,000. The country also has seen a steep rise in new cases, with more than 50,000 on several days in the past week.

News from the sports world is confirming the seriousness of the situation almost every day. It’s another reality check.