When the NBA suspended its season following the games on Wednesday, March 11th, it was a big shock to most fans. Little did we know that it was just the beginning, as the COVID – 19 virus spread around the world, and every other sports league followed suit, either suspending or just canceling their respective seasons.
Nearly a month later, and while stadiums around the world remain silent, countries across the globe are focusing on social distancing with stay-at-home orders becoming the norm in most American cities. There is no end in sight, as the NFL prepares for a virtual draft and the NBA discusses whether or not to just completely cancel the season or if it would be possible to just jump straight to the playoffs when these restrictions are lifted.
While obviously sporting events are taking a back seat to more important events, such as vaccine trials and staying safe amid this deadly virus, I think it would be nice to talk about sports and try to look forward to when our world gets back to some sort of normalcy.
Effect the NBA
The first major sports league in the United States to suspend operations, the NBA was hit the closest when Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel corona virus, followed by his teammate Donovan Mitchell and then players throughout the league.
Although there had been speculation about playing without fans before these events unfolded, after players started getting the virus that was shut down and the league suspended indefinitely. As of now there are still hopes to continue the season and crown a champion, the longer the nation stays shut down to more likely that the league ends up canceling the season.
MLB Postpones the Beginning of their Season
Major League Baseball might actually welcome the postponement of their season, after the fiasco with the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox and sign stealing. The Astros had led all teams in spring training with hit batters, after being hit by 7 pitches in the first 5 games.
MLB was originally set to begin on March 26th, but obviously that date has changed. Rumors around the league say that the season may start in June or July, when the All-Star game is typically played, but it all depends on if the COVID – 19 is under control by then. There has also been talks about having games in empty stadiums in Arizona, but no plans have been set as of yet.
NFL Virtual Draft
So far the effects on the NFL have been minor, due mainly to the fact that the season ended only a couple months ago. Free agency has begun, and for the most part was not impacted. There are a few individual players that were probably negatively impacted due to injuries and the inability to travel and be checked out by team physicians, but overall this was minor.
The NFL Draft was originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, where the Raiders will move to this season to open play in their brand new Allegiant Stadium. Now there will be a virtual draft, from NFL personnel home’s since all NFL facilities have been closed until further notice. In order to make sure that everything goes smoothly, the NFL is planning on have a mock draft to run through the entire process before the actual draft, which will take place on April 23-25.
NHL Suspended Season
The NHL followed suit in suspending its season on March 12, with the postseason supposed to begin on April 8th but obviously been pushed back. Commissioner Gary Bettman has not made any decisions yet, but has talked about jumping straight to the playoffs as well depending on when they could begin play.
As of now NHL player are under a self-quarantine, after the 8th player tested positive for COVID – 19, a third for the Colorado Avalanche and 5 for the Ottawa Senators. This self-quarantine is scheduled until April 15th, but expected to be extended.
MLS 25th Season on Hold
Major League Soccer was prepared to celebrate their 25th season in style, however 2 games into the new season the MLS joined other sports leagues in suspending operations until the pandemic is over. The current date to return is May 10th, but that looks more improbable as the days go by. Only 1 player so far has tested positive, but with the rest of the country locked down it would be nearly impossible to play any games now, even if they did try without fans.
The MLS grew to 26 teams this year with the addition of Nashville and Miami, and have plans to add 4 more in the coming years. The goal right now is to finish their season in its entirety, which may mean playing into December as they used to. There are also options to cancel non-league matches and shorten the playoff, eliminating two-legged playoffs.
PGA Reschedules 3 Majors, Cancels British Open
The US Open, originally scheduled to take place from June 18-21, will now happen from September 17-20, still at the Winged Foot Gold Club in Mamaroneck, New York. The Masters, which would have been played this past weekend, has now been moved to November 9-15 tentatively.
The PGA Championship, which is typically the second Major of the year, was originally scheduled to take place from May 11-17, has now been moved to August 13-19. The British Open, which was the last of the 4 majors originally, has been canceled for 2020, and planned to play in 2021.
What is Next?
Until there is a solution to containing the COVID – 19, there isn’t much that sports leagues can do. Some leagues have talked about moving all of their players and essential personnel to a secure site to continue their seasons, but I doubt that comes to pass. Most if not all players will not be happy about being forced to leave their families in this scary time, and being able to test players to ensure that they do not have the disease might prove impossible.
It looks like we will all have to wait until we are able to get a handle on the COVID – 19, and make the decisions at that point. Hopefully we will get to see our favorite athletes compete again soon, until then reruns on ESPN and the NFL Network will have to do!