It may be naive to say that the COVID-19 crisis did not feel real until its impact was fully felt by North America’s sports leagues, but to many, it was one the most important signs that this problem will change our way of life for the foreseeable future.
The first domino to fall became known to the public yesterday when the Golden State Warriors and Columbus Blue Jackets each announced that their home games would be played without fans in attendance for an indeterminate period of time. This was somewhat expected, as the fears that the virus would continue to spread in these areas had increased dramatically in recent days.
The NCAA then announced that March Madness – college basketball’s premier tournament, which brings in a massive stream of revenue and publicity – would also be held without fans. Today, the entire tournament, and every college sporting event that had been scheduled for the remainder of the winter and spring, was canceled by the NCAA due to the virus.
The most unusual and astounding moment of yesterday’s chaos was when the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz saw their contest canceled abruptly, just moments before the game was set to tip-off. As it turned out, the Jazz player Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the virus, just days after mocking its severity. The NBA responded by immediately suspending action around the league for at least thirty days. The rest of the sports world would swiftly follow suit, with the NHL, MLB, MLS, and NFL halting all aspects of their respective leagues’ operations.
During any troubling time, sports are often our society’s escape from the stress and hardships of life. During this unprecedented period in our history, we will be without all of the sports that many of us so dearly love.
All that we can do is remain calm, and do everything we can to help those who are in need around us. We must be vigilant by limiting travel, canceling public functions, and washing our hands as much as possible. Divisiveness will not do us any good; a concentrated effort as one country, and one people, will help us ride out this storm.
We will get through this, as a nation, and as a world, united. Unfortunately, we will have to make do without sports to guide us during this dark time.