COVID-19 Affects Sports Worldwide

COVID-19+Affects+Sports+Worldwide

CDC

Martin Gomez, Staff Writer

For the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena, it was a typical day. They were ready to watch the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz. The players warmed up like usual, with only a few minutes before tip-off. Then, all of a sudden, the team made their way to the locker rooms. No announcement what so ever was made. It took about half an hour for the public address announcer to say something. The fans were in complete shock. The game had been postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

It was later revealed that two players from the Utah Jazz, center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, tested positive for COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

Gobert was the first player to test positive for the virus. With this news in mind, many looked back at clips of Gobert touching all the microphones jokingly in case he had the virus, during a press conference just a few days prior. He said he wanted to make a statement of how he wasn’t going to catch corona, which looking back now is ironic. Immediate backlash was aimed at him due to his carelessness, as teammate Mitchell, who also tested positive, said Gobert acted irresponsibly in spreading the disease during the health crisis.

This announcement rocked the sports world. Limitations were already set in place in order to combat the spread, such as no contact with other players through high-fives or celebrations and avoidance of unnecessary contact with fans. Even the media wasn’t allowed to interview players, with the possibility of the virus spreading. Some leagues were headed toward the route of playing without fans. The Golden State Warriors of the NBA were planning on doing that before the season was suspended, and the MLB was playing with the idea of it with their regular season coming up soon. Italy, who was one of the countries that was hit the hardest by the disease, had the Serie A, their major soccer league, playing without fans for a few weeks at that point. The Gobert situation and the NBA’s decision ultimately set the precedent for every sport to follow.

Sports leagues were already weary of continuing playing during this time, but with the news of Gobert’s test, it was the nail in the coffin. The NBA immediately postponed any other games which were to take place that night and suspended the season indefinitely. After that decision, the other major sports leagues followed suit, with the MLS, NHL and MLB suspending their seasons the day after. On the brink of starting March Madness, the NCAA also canceled the tournament. The impact was far larger than many thought. With the virus being worse in other countries, sports around the globe suspended their seasons.

Being a sports fan, this was the best decision all the leagues could have made. Not only was it good in order to protect the players, fans and workers, but changing anything about how the games were to be played would negatively impact the fan experience. Going to games is a huge part of it, and to not have the ability to have the firsthand experience would be awful. Players, such as Lakers’ Lebron James, spoke out about the potential of playing without fans, saying it’s “impossible.” James stated, “That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.” For players, fans are an important aspect of what they do. They give the players a reason to play and go all out in order to obtain the win.

Gobert’s actions were irresponsible, but ultimately, led the NBA and other organizations who soon followed, to make the right decision. We all have the right to be sad that we can’t see our favorite teams take the field right now but in a time of panic and a pandemic, limiting the spread of the virus is more important than watching games.