Empty stands

Bleachers and courts will be empty this year after the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last 48 hours, the world as we know it has changed, as precautions are taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19, the scientific name for the virus that has changed the landscape of the sporting world, first popped up in China in January. That began the ripple effect that, as of yesterday, suspended the KHSAA Sweet 16, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA conference tournaments, March Madness and many more events.

It’s a measure that is only taken out of necessity. The financial impact alone was reason enough for the leagues to be skeptical, but the overwhelming truth is that this global pandemic was on track to spiral out of control unless preventative measures were taken. 

Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, two NBA players for the Utah Jazz, were confirmed to have the virus, and with that news came the suspension of all NBA activity until further notice. 

I think this step was a crucial one. There seems to be two separate trains of thought when it comes to the pandemic – either you believe these steps are the right call or you don’t. So, what are the facts? 

In the United States as of 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, there were 1,322 cases confirmed with 38 deaths. The virus has continued to infect at exponential rates, and large gatherings – such as attending a basketball game – is the ideal way to spread the contamination. So, the decision to end the tournaments, leagues, sports, etc. is the only effective way that these organizations can ensure they aren’t part of the problem, but instead part of the solution. 

If you look at what happened with Italy, it’s apparent what could have happened if the changes were not made. Over a 19-day period, cases in Italy jumped from the teens to over 12,000. The death toll in a three-day period went from 366 to 827, and that number is still climbing. Drastic measures were taken in Italy, but they came too late. Hopefully, we weren’t too late with the decisions made here in the United States.

Here’s a quick list of just some of the things that have come out in regards to sports and the coronavirus as of 2 p.m. yesterday. 

• The NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) has canceled the state archery meet that was set for this weekend.

• The KHSAA has suspended play at Rupp Arena for the Sweet 16 indefinitely.

• The NCAA Division I basketball tournaments, as well as all spring championships, have been canceled.

• The NBA has suspended play until further notice.

• The NHL has put their season on “pause” beginning with Thursday night’s games.

• NASCAR has decided to still race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but with no fans in attendance. The event is restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel.

• The Ivy League, Duke, Kansas and others have suspended spring sports indefinitely.

• KHSAA said that the spring sports decisions will be “a local decision” and as of the moment this is being written, Calloway County and Murray High are set to begin softball and baseball on Monday.

• The OVC has not made any changes to scheduling, but will not allow handshakes postgame for the time being.

• The MLB has suspended the start of the season for two weeks with the potential for more changes if needed.

• Multiple conference tournaments have been canceled in college basketball.

This is not a comprehensive list, as the situation is fluid with the coronavirus.

There is no quick fix, but the limitation of large groups and travel by athletes that could potentially become carries of the virus is a good start. Of course, there are those that oppose these drastic measures, but at the end of the day if lives are saved I think it’s worth it.

As things continue to unfold, we will keep you updated. For now, we wait can only wait and wash our hands...

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