Coronavirus and its effects on sports
Associate Sports Editor
The recent global spread of coronavirus brought rapid changes to life that have not been seen before on such a wide scale in the 21st century. People are advised to stay inside and, if necessary, self-quarantine and isolate themselves. This applies to everyone, not even athletes are safe.
Athletes all over the world, whether just starting high school to tenured professionals are at home. The fields and courts they play on are filled with nothing but the hopes of what could have been.
High school, collegiate and professional athletics have either postponed or canceled all of their respective sports. The University of Delaware, along with the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring sporting events and championships.
Delaware Athletics felt this hit home with multiple teams and athletes.
The women’s basketball team was unable to compete in the CAA tournament. Michaela Meyer could not compete in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, even after making the trek all the way out to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Among the team’s that just started to compete in the spring, many got off to hot starts.
Delaware softball was on a seven-game winning streak and held a 19-4 record. Baseball was a game over .500 sitting at 8-7. Men’s tennis sat at 14-1 and, after a March 8 victory against Drexel, setting a new team record of 14 consecutive wins.
On all the teams that were affected, there were athletes who would graduate with the 2020 season being their last time competing as a Blue Hen. Some not even knowing that what seemed to be a regular game would become the last of their career.
This was the case for not only Delaware athletes, but collegiate athletes around the country.
Men’s and women’s basketball players were not able to play in their respective tournaments, which are two of the most anticipated national championships of March and April.
Athletes that played sports such as basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse were not able to showcase all their ability to professional scouts, hindering their chances to play at the next level.
Professional athletes felt the same effect as their collegiate counterparts.
Sports leagues worldwide put their seasons on hold until the spread of coronavirus is contained. In the United States the NBA, NHL and MLS all suspended their seasons.
The NHL and NBA were set to start their respective league playoffs in early- to mid-April. This hiatus has created the biggest questions of when the leagues will resume play, and if so will they continue with the regular season or go straight to the playoffs.
The MLB has pushed back its opening day until mid-May, it said in a statement released Monday.
Even the NFL has needed to make changes to its league schedule. The NFL canceled its annual draft festivities that were set to take place in Las Vegas from April 23-25. The draft itself will still take place on time. The league also canceled offseason workouts indefinitely, hindering teams abilities to get newly signed and drafted players acclimated to their new homes.
Among leagues hit with coronavirus, NBA players suffered the most from its spread. As of Thursday, 13 players and team staff members from around the league tested positive for coronavirus. Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz stars Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell are among two of the 13.
The spread of coronavirus has not only affected athletes, teams and leagues, it has also affected the people that watch sports. Sports are a way to get away from real life, a way to escape.
Sports bring people of all different backgrounds together and unite them. George W. Bush’s ceremonial first pitch at the 2001 World Series two months after 9/11 and Steve Gleason’s blocked punt for the New Orleans Saints shortly after Hurricane Katrina come to mind as moments that brought communities together as one.
On the surface, there are visible effects on the obvious aspects. The teams, players and fans are the main attractions, but the people behind the scenes have still felt the effects of coronavirus.
The people who make the event run smoothly, the people who serve popcorn and soda and the people who keep everyone in the arena safe all lost a job for the time being. These are people who rely on their respective jobs to make a living, support their families, pay the bills and put food on the table.
In response, teams and players have made it their mission to make sure these workers are able to support themselves and their families.
New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson will cover all the salaries of arena employees for the next 30 days. Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is donating $100,000 to all arena staff members.
The Golden State Warriors donated $1 million to a fund that will go to help aid employees that work during Warriors games that were affected by the NBA’s suspension.
Every MLB team committed $1 million to pay their gameday staffs that are without work during the outbreak.
The main goal of halting sports was to stop the spread of coronavirus. By no means was the decision to halt sports incorrect. It put the safety of not only athletes, coaches, fans and workers at the forefront, it made the future health of society the primary concern.
In 50 years, there will be a time when athletes and fans are able to look back and talk about the time the sporting world halted and, for once, stood completely still. For now, that can only be a hope as humanity looks to combat coronavirus.