by Mohammad Samra / Staff Reporter
Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City buzzed with excitement as fans waited for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz players to run onto the court as they’ve done countless times in the 30 venues where National Basketball Association games are played. But they never did.
Rudy Gobert, a player on the Jazz, tested positive for the highly contentious COVID-19. The game — and the entire NBA season — was postponed within the hour.
The rest of the world’s major sports leagues followed in the NBA’s footsteps. The National Hockey League also suspended its season, Major League Baseball postponed its opening day games and even the Xtreme Football League canceled the rest of its season. Many other leagues paused play indefinitely.
Sports like the NBA, MLB and NHL have had lockouts where a portion of the season was cut due to bargaining disputes between players and owners. In those cases, only one league had been affected, but the current state of the sports world is one we haven’t seen before.
In a matter of a few days, we lost nearly everything.
Before the shutdowns, the NBA was striding towards one of its most anticipated postseasons ever. The Houston Astros were just beginning to endure a season’s worth of frustration from 29 other MLB teams. The XFL was also enjoying what looked to be a successful reboot, and Liverpool was continuing its march to capturing the Premier League title.
Fortunately, a chaotic NFL offseason has reinjected life — for now — back into sports. But, it’s uncertain how long it’ll be before leagues can return to creating the moments that make them so great.
The CDC recommended that public gatherings be postponed for the next eight weeks, meaning leagues won’t be able to conduct games with fans until at least June.
Whenever the world sits in a state of panic, sports often act as a distraction to help those who need a moment away from the grimness and uncertainty of their current situation.
Regardless of what was happening around the world, we have always been able to catch highlights of the biggest games. Sports lived within its own bubble and didn’t care what was happening in the real world. Games were postponed for a day, maybe two, but nothing came close to tarnishing the invincibility of the major sports leagues around the world — until last week.
The leagues currently lay in a coma. We know that eventually they’ll return and when they do, it’ll be glorious. A shortened MLB season makes every game that much more meaningful. NBA players will be well-rested and eager to return to the court for the playoffs. We could be seeing playoff basketball in July.
The action and excitement will return almost as quickly as it left, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the moment. It was entirely appropriate to postpone or suspend all sporting events until further notice. It was the right precaution to take, especially with more and more NBA players beginning to test positive for the highly contagious virus.
While we anticipate what news will develop next, it is important to stay updated on the current situation we’re in. The world’s effort in controlling the outbreak will likely dictate how quickly leagues can resume play. Never have we seen real-life intervene with sports to this extent, especially on a worldwide scale.