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Coronavirus: The Day The Sports Stopped

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Societal interaction is being put on hold thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19), as day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, it seems as if something else is being shutdown indefinitely. We’re being told to wash our hands, keep them away from our face, avoid human interaction as much as possible, especially public gatherings. In attempts to avoid these human interactions, a lot of schools and universities around the country have been hit with shutdowns of up to at least two weeks but where the situation is really making a lot of us take notice is in one area: sports. 

Everything from as close as our local high schools to as far as foreign countries have cancelled not just games but tournaments and remaining seasons all together. On Wednesday, our own nation suffered the first of the major shutdowns across some of the country’s most popular sports. The NBA first announced the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets game at the Chase Center in San Francisco would be played in front of no fans, then the XFL announced the game in Seattle on Sunday would be played in front of no fans.

As Wednesday continued, the announcements only worsened. The NCAA announced the entire March Madness tournament would be played in front of no fans. Finally, the NBA came with the biggest of blows when they announced the entire season was suspended until further notice after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus just prior to the game in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. The shutdowns continued Thursday.

The pandemic has created such a scare that now all of the NCAA Power 5 conference championship tournaments have been cancelled. In professional sports, the NHL and MLS followed suit with the NBA in suspending their seasons momentarily. MLB suspended the rest of Spring Training and delayed their upcoming regular season by two weeks. NASCAR, however, announced races will take place this weekend in Atlanta, and next weekend in Miami, but without fans in attendance.

The only time in my life I can remember when the whole world seemed to be on shutdown was September 11, 2001. As Americans, even if you weren’t old enough to remember or weren’t born until after, you know the events that took place on that fateful day. For those of us that did experience it and the subsequent days after, our whole world went on shutdown for days. But something that most will remember from that time, especially if you are a sports fan, was on September 21, 2001, when the first organized sporting event in New York City post 9/11 took place between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. It was patriotic, dramatic, uplifting, and even heroic – but exactly what we all needed as a nation as if to say, “It’s going to be okay.”

Sports was there then – it was a healer in a time when healing was most needed. Sports has and always will be important to our society.

Some don’t go by the changing of the leaves to recognize the temperate seasons. They go by things like the first pitch, the first tip-off or first kickoff. So, for many who are sports fanatics, there’s just a lost feeling today because sports is an escape. It was a heartfelt escape the moment the Braves and Mets touched the diamond at the old Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001. It was an escape for our nation after events like the Boston Marathon Bombing, multiple school shootings over the years and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

That’s what makes sports so wonderful. They’re there. They’re there in the good times and the bad times. They’re there when we need a smile to replace a tear. They’re there to help us forget a tragedy and remember a victory. But right now, sports aren’t even there. A game-winning jumper or a deep drive to left-field is put on pause. Thanks to the spreading of a biological agent, we are now forced to give it up for the time being. 

The show, for once, is being told not to go on – but it’ll be back.