COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Sports Cancellations

By Steven Lelham at Unsplash

It’s not news to anyone at this point that everyone is trying to stay as separate as possible. It’s mandatory that every stay as separate as possible. Because of that, a lot of people have more time on their hands than they know what to do with, leading them to turn on the TV. But the question lingering on the minds of Jaguars, college students and fathers everywhere is, “Where are the sports?”

Quick answer: gone.

Sporting events require teams of players, coaches, camera crews, family members, and sometimes thousands of spectators. During a pandemic, it’s just not practical.

Some sports have chosen to still hold events, but just without spectators, such as UFC fights. UFC president Dana White has even claimed to be building something called “Fight Island,” a secluded location which will host brawls between healthy, thoroughly tested fighters, observed by healthy, thoroughly tested referees, coaches and judges. He says that “we’re looking at like a month” until fighters can start going over to “Fight Island” to train.

March Madness was going to be held this way, too, with only family members of the players allowed to spectate, but it was eventually just cancelled. Popular student opinion was that watching a usually heavily-hyped basketball game without spectators would be the same, and would probably feel awkward. Either way, March had enough madness on its own, so the cancellation was a good choice.

The English Premier League soccer competition was paused in March and wasn’t expected to return until at least April 30. It’s not certain if they are going to be able in May like they assumed, but since player contracts end on June 30, they have to try and squeeze it in somewhere in between. It was postponed with Liverpool F.C. in the lead. The looming threat of cancellation is a heartbreaker for Liverpool fans, as they were so close to winning their first Premier League title this season.

More pressing to American sports fans is the NBA playoffs. The NBA posted an update on April 8 stating that they have suspended their season for about a month amidst COVID-19 concerns, then come back to think through their options. It isn’t certain what is going to happen to the rest of the season, whether they’re going to cancel the games and pick it back up when it’s safe, or whether they’re going to continue the season, only a little later than expected. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in March that “it was way premature to suggest that we lost the season.” At this point, however, no one really knows. On the bright side, the NBA HORSE competition on ESPN is in full swing, with basketball players going head-to-head on video chat from a safe distance.

Tennis Grand Slams are being cancelled and moved around to hopefully fit as many of the ATP and WTA’s largest tournaments as possible into the year with smaller tournaments just being cancelled. Wimbledon, which has a massive insurance policy, was able to cancel. The French Open, which usually happens at the end of May and the beginning of June, has been moved from being the second Grand Slam of the season to being the last. Now, it’s set to take place a week after the US Open. It’s suspected that it won’t stay in that spot, though. The strain and rigor of a Grand Slam means players need time to recover. Added to the time they need to reacclimate themselves to a clay court after playing on hard courts, having them one right after the other doesn’t appear to be a feasible option. Whether or not the tournaments will stay where they are, we shall see.

Probably the cancellation that hit the hardest was that of the 2020 Summer Olympics. They were going to be held in Tokyo, Japan this year, their first time hosting since 1964. The massive scale of the event amid unsure circumstances meant there was no chance for it being held in 2020, unfortunately. Still, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government have explicitly stated that the games will still happen. It’s now being pushed back until July, 2021. As far as anyone knows, this won’t throw off the Olympic cycle; Beijing Winter Olympics will still be held in 2022, Paris Summer Olympics in 2024, and so on.

Of course, Carrboro sports weren’t able to escape the carnage. With everyone in quarantine until at least May 15, all Spring sports have been cut short. Pulling the plug with just a few weeks of gameplay must not have been an easy decision for the administration, nor was it easy on seniors, who will miss out on their last year of play, time with their teammates, senior night, everything. Whether or not the 2020-21 fall season will be affected as well is to be determined. Lacrosse, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, softball, baseball, men’s golf and track and field will all be dearly missed in the meantime.

In the end, with barely any sports to watch and barely any sports to play, fans will have to find something else to do. This is turning out to be the quarantine of reruns and sports anime, it appears. Until reports start coming back from our favorite associations, it’s going to be the 1990 NBA Finals, 2012 Australian Open Men’s Final, and 2014 Sochi Olympic Figure Skating.

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Audrey is a senior and an editor for The JagWire. In her free time, she draws, watches foreign TV shows, and makes soufflés while listening to music to try and stave off any panic that can come with making a soufflé. She's currently accepting photos of cute animals wearing clothes.

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