The 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world at large and especially the sports world. All 4 US major sports leagues in action right now (NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS) have suspended their seasons. The NCAA cancelled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and suspended all other sports for the rest of the year. Most international leagues (for any sport) have suspended their seasons as well. High school sports are profoundly affected as well, with several states calling off or limiting attendance to their state tournaments. In Minnesota, a tournament that I took part in during high school, the state adapted floor hockey tournament, was cancelled due to disabled individuals being higher risk for complications from COVID-19. We are heading into uncharted territory, a world without sports probably for the foreseeable future.
It’s a bizarre thought, given that typically even in a dead period in American sports, there’s seemingly always something on. If I can’t watch a random English Premier League game between Southampton and Norwich City at 8am on a Saturday, then what else am I supposed to do. Despite how much of a bummer this is, it’s actually a good thing that leagues are being cautious about this virus, because of the profound impact it could have on the world at large.
The phrase “social distancing” has become very well known over the last few days. Researchers and medical professionals are recommending that large gatherings not be held over the next several weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, and so sporting events, concerts, and schools have all cancelled or postponed to a later date. For a short while, it appeared that the goal of sports leagues across the globe was simply to play their games without fans in attendance. This would’ve been incredibly fascinating and eerie to watch, but later the leagues unanimously decided to suspend play entirely. This was frustrating news for a sports fan such as myself (and, I presume, for those of you reading this.) If you actually think about why it was done, however, it makes perfect sense.
Professional and collegiate athletes are typically in peak physical condition, so they would probably be perfectly okay if they contracted COVID-19. But what happens if these athletes come in contact with someone at high risk for the disease, like someone who is elderly or immunocompromised? That’s a big reason why Austria made the decision to ban gatherings of over five people. Even for those who won’t be hurt by the virus, they still run the risk of spreading it to someone who will be. Thus, it’s probably a good idea to suspend any sort of big social gathering for the time being. No baseball, hockey, soccer, or basketball is a pretty small price to pay when people’s lives are at stake. We can survive not watching a game if it means that people stay healthy. Stay home and be safe, everybody.