Professional sports still in lockdown, affects both fans and league offices

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Connor McDavid (left) and Rudy Gobert (right), stand infront of a COVID-19 bacteria cell.

Aidan Garvey, Staff Writer

In the spring of 2020, professional sports faced a dilemma that was unprecedented for over 100 years… Cancellation. It started with the NBA, on Mar. 11, following the Positive testing of Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz for COVID-19. This was a shock to NBA fans and sports fans around the globe, as nobody had seen this before. One day sports were there, the next they were gone. Several hours later, the NHL also suspended operations due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Several days later, the MLB postponed its opening day that was two weeks ahead. The impacts among the fans, clubs, and businesses surrounding these leagues were spread like wildfire. Now in Early May, fans still await the announcement of when sports will return.

The NBA: 

The date was Mar. 11, the Utah Jazz were in Oklahoma City set to face the Thunder. It was the fifth game to undergo that night. Just before tip-off, the officials and team doctors congregated on the sideline. The tip-off was delayed and nobody was clearly sure about what was going on. What had happened, was that Utah Center, Rudy Gobert, had just tested positive for COVID-19. The game was immediately cancelled and the New Orleans, Sacramento matchup set for after was also cancelled. The four games already in play were allowed to finish, as 22 year veteran, and future hall of famer Vince Carter, seemingly played the last game of his career. Soon after this, the NBA officially suspended its operations for an unknown amount of time. This decision came as a shock but then again seemed inevitable for most NBA fans. Junior Matthew Riggs claimed that, “Not having the NBA has impacted [him] more than [he] thought.I normally look forward to watching that prime time game and winding down after a long day and I haven’t been able to do that.” many others feel the same about this as the NBA Finals, is “watched by an average of 15.14 million viewers in the United Statesstatista.com. 

The NHL:

Following the decision by the NBA to suspend its operations indefinitely, stating that the are, “aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season”. The claimed that they would await an opinion by medical professionals on whether to continue playing or do the same as the NBA. Then, on Mar. 12, the NHL replicated the NBA’s decision and suspended the season. The NHL only had 3 weeks left in the season, and had several teams racing for a final playoff spot. These teams included the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, and Minnesota wild, who were all within 1 game of clinching a wild card spot. Fans from across both Canada and the United States, were left without the classic Stanley Cup Playoff hockey that is anticipated for months. Junior Kyle Boller, who plays on the school’s hockey team, says that, “There’s a hole in me that needs to be filled by maniacs hitting each other on ice”.

The MLB:

Major League Baseball’s opening day, which usually takes place in late March or Early April, was postponed this year, on Mar. 16. The cancellation was 2 weeks prior to the scheduled opening day. The virus reached the MLB soon after, as a player in the New York Yankees farm team system tested positive. The postponing of the season has lasted over a month now and fans are not happy about it. Bill Garvey, a fan of the MLB for decades said that “[he is] usually used to the spring training ,opening day, and fantasy baseball, and all that has been put to side”. Junior Sean Murphy, who plays on the school’s baseball team, says that, “the MLB plays a big part in [his] day… and not having it definitely makes the days longer”.

The NFL:

Although the National Football Leagues season was long over by the time the cancellations were ensuing, they still had offseason arrangements to address, most importantly the Draft. The NFL draft is the annual process by which all 32 NFL teams are able to scout out college talent and claim them for their organization. Usually an extremely large event, with thousands in attendance and millions of viewers on television. The NFL had to adjust the draft process accordingly, to accommodate for the social distancing procedures currently in place in the US. The NFL settled on a “virtual draft”, in which Commissioner Roger Goodell would stream from his basement, and all 32 NFL teams would have their General Managers and Coaches on camera as well for the entire 3 day process. The top 60 prospects were also televised with their families to show their reactions. Brian McCarthy, from Corporate Communications of the NFL, said that, “While no games have been disrupted during this health crisis, the NFL has conducted its offseason efficiently, but quite differently… Instead of in person visits with the college prospects who were going to be drafted, coaches and general managers had to speak to the young players over the phone or by videoconference… so while the business of football was conducted differently, work still got done in preparation for the start of the season.”

Although sports, and really any activity are limited at the moment, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that a full cancellation of the NHL season is “not something [he is] even contemplating”, which would mean a late, but proper end to the season. The MLB continues to push back their games with no news coming out about a return date. The NFL is hopeful to return in the fall due to their creative offseason procedures, and the NBA remains quiet. With all said and done however, the sports world looks to resume regular procedures as soon as the pandemic is resolved.