Coronavirus is changing the landscape of sports in the United States

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MARCH 06: A sign reads 'No Spectators" prior to Yeshiva playing against Worcester Polytechnic Institute during the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship - First Round at Goldfarb Gymnasium on at Johns Hopkins University on March 6, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had confirmed three cases of residents with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, prompting Johns Hopkins officials to host the NCAA men's basketball tournament without spectators.

The sports world is feeling the effects of the coronavirus with major changes coming at the professional and collegiate levels.

Frank Curto

I love a cold Corona beer. The ice-cold bottle in my hand with a lime, kicking back watching a New York Rangers game or a NASCAR race on Sunday afternoon.

Over the last month, “corona” has taken on a new meaning. COVID-19—also known as coronavirus—is taking over the sports world. Coronavirus is a respiratory infection that is spreading throughout the United States with ease.

All across the world, from China to Italy, the virus has had its way with natives of so many countries. Our country, our city is now in the middle of battling a disease that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday morning.

Prior to this announcement, there had already been some restrictions in large gatherings. Concerts had been canceled, states prohibited large gatherings of more than 1,000 people and for the most part, it felt like things were fairly under control.

The first domino fell when the Ivy league canceled all sporting events for the spring semester. Think about that, a senior preparing to complete in his last season may have played their last game without even knowing it. No warning at all.

At 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the NCAA made an announcement that will forever change the landscape of sports in the US for the next several months.

The NCAA March Madness basketball tournament for men’s and women’s would be closed to all fans except essential staff and limited family members.

They referred to the coronavirus and prevention of spreading the disease as the main reason for such a surprising new reality. The NCAA went even further suggested it may now move the Final Four to a smaller venue in Atlanta.

Later on Wednesday, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA decided to suspend the season indefinitely. The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets also announced they will play in an empty arena for the remainder of the season.

Do you miss the sound of a baseball bat cracking a ball into right field? Better hope you have great surround sound on your television because MLB is already discussing starting the season with empty stadiums.

There is more craziness. The WWE is now determining if it will cancel its best pay per view of the year—Wrestlemania. NASCAR is finalizing a new protocol when it comes to signing autographs for fans prior to races. Imagine how bad things are becoming when Nascar drivers may have to stop doing what they have been known for throughout their history—giving their fans unparalleled access to the drivers and race teams.

The financial impact is still unknown at this time, but one would have to believe the venues hosting live events will suffer heavy losses. Teams and venues can always make more profits. People’s health, on the other hand, is something money can’t buy.

Coronavirus Has No Limits

The toughest part of the postponement and cancellations of the season falls on the collegiate player.

My daughter plays lacrosse for Ramapo College of New Jersey. A freshman in her first year she had worked hard as all college athletes do at every level. She is lucky to know that if this season is canceled, she has three more years to play.

The seniors, on Ramapo, Princeton, Harvard or wherever they attend school are the ones who might suffer the most because of the virus.

LeBron James will still make his millions as will professional players like Artemi Panarin, Aaron Judge and other premier players. Regardless of fans attending games, pushed back dates, or cancellations, the pro athletes, for the most part, will all have other opportunities to win championships.

For those seniors who are entering their final season of school, it might have been the last time they suit up in their athletic careers.

The Well Being Of Fans And Athletes

This is all being done to help rid ourselves of coronavirus. People are being forced to take this condition seriously which is clear by what has transpired over the last 24 hours.

The sports world put money, budgets, and profits by the wayside to help avoid spreading the virus. Only time will tell if this will indeed help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but the effort to contain it is appreciated.

This is truly an unprecedented situation. Thankfully, the decisionmakers realize that the health of players, staff, and fans is more important than the bottom line. There will be a significant sports sacrifice, but it’s what is necessary.

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