We have never seen a period like this in sports. It’s unprecedented. It’s hard to comprehend. We know sports aren’t everything. But sometimes we act like they are. We may scream too loud. Heckle the referee too much. But at the end of the day, we understand.
On Wednesday night, the NBA suspended the season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Then, on Thursday, the dominos started to fall. First, the college conferences canceled their basketball tournaments. Then Major League Soccer and the National Hockey Leauge suspended its seasons. Major League Baseball canceled spring training games and delayed the start of the regular season for at least two weeks. March Madness was over before it began: The NCAA called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
It’s heartbreaking. For the fans. For the coaches. For the families. And for the athletes.
The effect of this is much bigger than sports, but sometimes sports is all these kids have to look forward to. It’s what keeps them pushing forward. Alabama junior guard John Petty Jr. was seen with a poster of himself walking out of Bridgestone Arena. Players were visibly shaken.
College softball and baseball players began spreading messages on social media. Many of whom were saying their goodbyes to the sport they love and the school they call home.
It’s nobody’s fault. It had to be done. The safety of human life is a top priority. No, if and or buts. But, to watch athletes that worked their entire childhood to shine on the biggest stage have it all snatched away from them in a blink of an eye is hard.
I’ve gotten to know several student-athletes during my time at the University of Alabama–some of whom I’ve become good friends with– and my heart aches for them. I’m sorry for each and every one of them, for having their season ripped away in an utterly devastating fashion. Accepting the fact your career is over is hard. These athletes dream of living that magical moment and having that fairy tale ending.
Now that won’t happen.
You all deserve better than this.
This isn’t how it’s supposed to end.
The NCAA should give spring student-athletes a year of eligibility back. They should wave the scholarship numbers for an unprecedented circumstance.
The positive of this situation is everyone coming together. Maybe, the cancellation of these major sporting events helped get the point across that this is a severe matter and taking action needed to happen.
But it’s ok to feel sadness. If you’re anything like me, the better part of your day is consumed by sports. I am a sports journalist. I write about sports. Now for the unforeseeable future, there won’t be games to write about. My day usually consists of reading multiple articles, watching ESPN, engaging with followers on social media, doing research–breaking down film on teams, games and athletes–and of course, writing. A lot.
Part of my DNA is tainted.
Coronavirus killed sports as we know it. There’s no March Madness for the first time in 81 years. No College World Series. No Women’s College World Series. No spring sports in general.
Seniors said their goodbyes and life will go on. But, forever, we appreciate you.