The Coronavirus and Sports
The coronavirus has taken the world by storm! Last week, the World Health Organization announced that it was an official pandemic. Some cities have shut down, on curfews and grocery stores are clearing out. But many across the nation are misinformed about what exactly the virus is and how it can come about.
According to the World Health Organization, it is a part of a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The virus is zoonotic meaning they are transmitted between animals and humans. Detailed Investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. The symptoms of the virus are respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. The World Health Organization also recommends regular hand washing, covering mouth, and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
On March 12th, the NCAA announced the cancellation of the men’s and women’s championship. The following day, they announced ALL it’s winter and spring championships have been canceled. Their statement, “This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.” This will be the first time a men’s champion will not be decided since the NCAA postseason began in 1939 and a first for women since the NCAA took over the tournament in 1981-1982. As always, March Madness is one of the main events in the month of March and everything just came to an abrupt halt. Gonzaga who was fan favorite to win the championship this year now has their season come to a disappointing end, their head coach Mark Few was in the middle of an interview with ESPN when the announcement came, “Extremely. Extremely disappointed. I think all of us felt we could postpone into May and if we needed to cancel we could cancel them. But if that’s what they are doing that is what they are doing.” Shortyly after the NCAA made their announcement, other conferences followed suit. The Big Ten announced plans to cancel all spring sports and a moratorium on all on and off campus recruiting activities. The Big 12 said all regular season games, recruiting both on and off campus and out of season practices are suspended until March 29. The ACC suspended athletic activity until further notice.
One of the biggest stars in college basketball was Oregon senior Sabrina Ionescu and her historic season comes to an sad end as she had hopes to bring a championship to Oregon. Ionesou is the projected number one pick in April’s WNBA draft. Her stats in just one year are out of this world. She was the first player (male or female) in NCAA history with 2K career points, 1k career rebounds and 1k career assists. She also is the NCAA all time leader (male or female) in career triple doubles with a staggering 26. The previous record was 12 held by Kyle Collinsworth (BYU 2012-2016). The second player in NCAA history (male or female) with 2K+ points and 1K+ assists, joining Courtney Vandersloot and the fifth player in NCAA women’s history to surpass 900 assists. Ionescu is Oregon All-Time leader in points, assists, 3pt field goals, and double figure scoring games. She is the Pac-12 women’s and men’s All-Time assists leader. It would’ve been a great end to such a great run for the senior and also good friend to Kobe and Gigi Bryant.
On the very same day, the NBA announced it was suspending its season after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The announcement came after a game between the Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed. Prior to the postponing, fans, media and team personnel were already in the arena. The Thunder’s head medical doctor reportedly ran to the court and talked to the referees just before tip off. Gobert’s teammate, Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for the virus.
Within hours of the announcement, NBA players stepped in to help those who work in the NBA arenas who were going to be without pay. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced he was going to put a plan intact to assist those with hourly pay at the American Airlines arena. Kevin Love has donated $100,000 to Cleveland Cavaliers arena and support staff affected by the suspension. Reigning Giannis Antetokounmpo pledged $100,000 to Milwaukee Bucks staff and Fiserv Forum. Following their star player, the Bucks organization announced they will match any of their players donations going forward for their staffers. Pistons forward Blake Griffin donated $100K for employees affected by NBA hiatus. New Orleans Pelicans star Zion WIlliamson has pledged to pay the salary of workers at the Smoothie King in the arena for the next month. Rudy Gobert is donating more than $500,000 to support both the employee relief fund at Vivint Smart Home Arena and COVID-related social services. On Saturday, Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Kings announced a joint venture with Staples Center to take care of arena staff. Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler vowed to take care of arena workers. The Rockets will give their part-time and hourly employees assistance.
In Breaking news, four Brooklyn Nets players have tested positive for the virus including NBA champion Kevin Durant.
Many other sporting events have been cancelled, postponed or closed to the public. The NFL draft which is being held in Las Vegas on April 23-25 is still on but closed to the public. Euro 2020 will be postponed until 2021, The Master’s, golf’s first major tournament of the year has been postponed, All English football has been postponed until April, PGA tour canceled Players Championship and all events through the Valero Open, NHL suspended play, and MLB suspended play. There have been no definitive answers as to when exactly things will open back up for some leagues. There also has been no word on if the Olympics have been cancelled this summer or not.