It’s hard to believe it’s been less than one month since live sports vanished. One day the other side of the world is enduring a horrific disease, the next, the first known case of COVID hits the NBA. Rudy Gobert became the face of the disease, not willingly, at least for a short time. Then, it spread to teammates and other players in the league. Over time, the disease has found a way to infiltrate nearly every major sport in America.
So much is being missed in that short window. First off, no end to the college basketball season, for men or women. In fact, only some mid-major schools managed to finish out their conference tournaments. After figuring out just how deadly COVID was, the NCAA did the right thing and canceled all conference tournaments, followed closely by all post-season tournaments. Now, I don’t know about you, but it would’ve been quite interesting to see how the NCAA tourney bracket would’ve shaped out, given the conditions. College basketball’s March Madness is truly something special in sports, not much else poses that much possible parity. So, to see the tournament be canceled was a huge blow to a good deal of people, though it was understandable.
Winter playoffs on hold
Follow that up with the final stretch of the NBA and NHL regular seasons with several teams still in the playoff hunt. For the first time in what’s seemed like several years, both the Eastern and Western NBA divisions were competitive, at least those in the playoff picture. To my knowledge, not a single team was eliminated from possibly making a playoff run. There have been rumors recently that the NBA will find a way to playout the postseason this year, which would be fantastic for a couple of different reasons. The biggest reason being to give fans something they’ll be craving even more so than usual. Considering the void of no sports, any live sport that returns this year will certainly have high ratings. The second reason revolves around Kobe Bryant and his Mamba Mentality. Granted, there’s nothing anyone can do at this point to accelerate the return of sports, but Bryant always had the “never give up” attitude, which would be epitomized if players get that opportunity. I firmly believe the Lakers would have won, and still might have won, the Championship this season. Their strong record indicates they can do it, and everyone knows they’ll be playing for Bryant.
In terms of the NHL, it’s a similar situation in a sense. As mentioned above, if the NHL were to resume this year, their ratings would certainly go up. Several teams were still in the thick of things, including St. Louis going for a repeat, and Tampa Bay hoping to avenge their implosion last season. Only one team was mathematically eliminated at that point from playoff contention (Detroit Red Wings). COVID also worked its way into the hockey world which was even more of a reason to shut it down. On an unrelated note, a young up and coming star, Colby Cave of the Edmonton Oilers, passed away at the age of 25 after suffering a Brain Bleed from being in an induced coma just days prior.
Some sports remained, but not for long. Golf was one of those sports that managed to keep operations going a little longer than any of their competition. They posed the idea, much like the NBA and NHL, of playing without fans, but that wasn’t good enough. Of course, fans were crossing their fingers The Masters could still be played, only to get rightfully disappointed. Again, this was an understandable move, but with all the greatness and history that comes with The Masters, it was another huge blow. The PGA has since announced a new schedule for the rest of the season, which includes three of the four major tournaments. Whether or not that comes to life later this year, only time will tell.
Baseball is another niche sport, partly because it also includes the most games in a regular season. It’s easy to lose some passion toward the sport 50 games in, then it ramps back up around the All-Star Break, goes down a bit, then apexes with the Playoffs insight. All that being said, a majority of fans of the sport are excited for that first month or so regardless. COVID took hold before Spring Training could even get underway, which may have been a better time than say, a week into the season. Just as many questions remain with this essentially being treated as a long offseason. I’m sure anyone to do with the Astros organization isn’t complaining much, with a lot of heat being put on them due to their cheating ways exposed en route to their World Series title. However, sports fans aren’t forgetful, and those players and/or coaches will get what’s coming for them at some point. It’s yet to be announced whether or not there will be an MLB season this year, frankly, it’s too early to determine with certainty. If they do come back, it should make for one of the more exciting seasons in recent history, considering it’ll be much shorter for everyone and a World Series still in play.
COVID has impacted every sport in some way or another, and even after it’s gone, the effects will last much longer. Everyone is hoping to get some form of live sports back in their life sooner rather than later. Right now, it certainly looks grim for the rest of 2020, but a lot could change yet. The one thing everyone does know, once sports are back it’ll be welcomed more than ever and things will certainly be exciting and different. For now, we all have to rely on replays, NFL and other sports signings, and anything else sports for that matter. At least the NFL Draft is coming up in the next couple of weeks, a small temporary fix for the gaping void in peoples’ lives.
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