Coronavirus Hits the Sports World Hard

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Created by Geoffrey Dean

COVID-19 has hit Wake County Public Schools. What happens next?

Geoffrey Dean, Chief Data Editor

UPDATED AT 8:04 AM, FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020

Throughout the day on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, several major organizations in the sports world took big steps towards mitigating the threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus) at their events. 

Just before 2:00 PM, another west coast sports team, the Seattle Mariners, announced they would be playing their March home games at an alternate location. Seattle is located in King County, Washington, the site of 234 confirmed cases and 26 deaths as the result of COVID-19. 

Then, just twelve minutes later, Chase Center, home of the three-time world champion Golden State Warriors, announced they would no longer allow fans in attendance for Warriors games. In addition to postponing multiple musical events in accordance with the city banning gatherings of over 1,000 people. 

At 4:30 PM, the NCAA announced it would be hosting all events without fans. This includes the men’s and women’s basketball tournament, affectionately known as March Madness. The ban will also affect the NCAA’s hockey and wrestling tournaments that are held in March.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day came at approximately 9:46 PM when the NBA announced the season would be suspended. This decision came following reports that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. In a year filled with heartbreak for the NBA family, this is just the latest bad news coming just months after the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven other individuals, and former commissioner David Stern. 

The NBA is the first major sports league to take drastic measures towards preventing the further spread of COVID-19, however, it can be reasonably expected that more may follow suit.

Over the course of Thursday, March 12, 2o20, more announcements broke, many postponing additional major sporting events.

The five major collegiate athletic conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and PAC-12) canceled their conference basketball tournaments. This was shortly followed by an announcement from the ACC that they would not participate in the Division I tournament if it was to be played as planned. The ACC, PAC-12, American, Mountain West and Big West ended participation in spring athletic events indefinitely, and the SEC canceled all home events until the end of March. NCAA tournament mainstays Duke and Kansas, the latter of which was the presumptive top seed going into March Madness, announced a decision to terminate all athletic travel until further notice.

The decision by numerous conferences to suspend participation in athletic events ultimately lead to the NCAA canceling both the Men’s and Women’s Division I basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring championship events.

In the NBA world, a second Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19. Reports first broke shortly after 11:00 AM, which Mitchell confirmed via Instagram roughly an hour later. Per ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Jazz players were frustrated with Gobert’s carelessness in the face of a serious health circumstance and with another positive test from the Utah locker room, these frustrations seem to be warranted.

The National Hockey League released a statement suspending the 2019-2020 season until further notice, with hopes to “complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.” The NHL came as the second professional sports league to suspend operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major League Baseball followed suit shortly thereafter and announced that Opening Day for the 2020 baseball season would be delayed due to concerns over COVID-19. The statement issued by the MLB also postponed the World Baseball Classic Qualifier until a later date that has yet to be determined.

The newly formed XFL, a football league created “For the Love of Football,” also announced they would not be playing the remainder of their 2020 season. The league will pay the players their base salary and benefits which sums to roughly $55,000. The XFL will also ensure that ticket holders are properly refunded and the league remains “committed to playing… in 2021.”

On the morning of Friday, March 13, 2020, the Champions League suspended their soccer matches, along with all English soccer leagues, which will resume action on April 3.