Coronavirus conquers world of sports: How professional sports organizations are responding to pandemic

Photo courtesy of kmvt.com

By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor

Coronavirus has monumentally changed the world – disrupting lives, education systems, and economies.  The world has come to a halt as businesses and organizations have decided (or have been forced) to close their doors to let the virus run its course.  As more and more people are cooped up inside all day, some may choose to pass the time by flipping on the television. However, sports fans everywhere may be thoroughly disappointed as most professional sports have suspended their seasons or competitions until further notice. 

The NBA was the first sports organization to take action against the spread of the coronavirus.  On Wednesday, March 11th, the NBA announced they would suspend its season. This decision was soon made after the first NBA player, Rudy Bobert of the Utah Jazz, tested positive for COVID-19.  Coronavirus is spreading, and is doing so extremely rapidly. As of March 19th, players on six other NBA teams have confirmed cases of the virus (USAToday). While the date of return to play is uncertain, an update from ESPN confirmed that the latest possible date for the NBA finals would be Labor Day.

On Thursday March 12th, the day after the NBA’s announcement, three other sports leagues decided to suspend their play.  The MLS declared that they will suspend any further games for 30 days (an approximate April 11 start date). However, after the CDC recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more should be avoided for eight weeks, the MLS decided that they would extend the suspension of play until May 10 (mlssoccer.com).

The NHL also announced that its season would be suspended on March 12th.  Commissioner Gary Bettman declared that the NHL season will be put on pause, yet he failed to mention an anticipated date of return.  The NBA and the NHL have many shared arenas such as Madison Square Garden, in which the New York Knicks and the Rangers both play. Bettman stated that the sharing of facilities and rooms was a major contributing factor to his decision (nhl.com). 

The MLB followed suit by cancelling the remainder of spring training in addition to suspending the first two weeks of the regular season.  However, similar to the MLS, the CDC recommendation to avoid large group gatherings caused the MLB to revise their statement. They did not give an anticipated start date, however they announced the start of their season will be further delayed (cbssports).

Golf, tennis, and NASCAR, among other professional sports have postponed or cancelled specific competitions and tournaments in response to the spread of the coronavirus. 

In addition to national sports, global competitions have been impacted by COVID-19.  The rising number of coronavirus cases across the globe prompted the latest sports news from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Prime Minister of Japan.  After time and consideration, they have decided to postpone the Summer 2020 Olympics, with the latest potential start date being the summer of 2021 (npr). 

With coronavirus cases continuously increasing, even these suggested start days may continue to be delayed. Coronavirus seems to have prevailed for now, however, with time, there is still hope to be sitting on your couch, turning on the TV, taking a load off, and watching your favorite sports team.

Sophomore Jamie Belfer is the sports editor. Her email is jbelfer@fandm.edu.

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