The New York Post’s back page on Friday may have put it best: “No More Sports in Town.”
The rabid sports fan who may have been planning to watch the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the start of Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League gear up for the playoffs as they are forced to work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic will now have to start binge-watching that Netflix show everyone was talking about three years ago or check out what “The Office” is all about.
Over the last two days, the sports world has effectively shut down. The NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Hours later, his teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the same disease. The NHL and Major League Soccer followed suit suspending their seasons in a preventative measure. Professional tennis tours also put their seasons on hold.
MLB would later cancel the rest of their spring training games and delay the start of opening day for at least two weeks. The NCAA would then deliver the next blow, canceling the entire men’s and women’s tournaments as well as the rest of spring athletics because of the outbreak.
The XFL was among the last professional leagues to hold out – but they decided to cancel the rest of their games during the 2020 season with a promise to play in 2021.
Fans and personalities attempted to cope with the idea of no sports.
Others began to clamor for ESPN Classic of all things.
The sweeping closures of each league leave fans with nothing to watch and furthermore nothing to bet on.
Jay Kornegay, executive vice president of Westgate Resort and Casino Superbook, told Fox News that losing the NCAA tournament is a “big blow.”
“The only thing that would compare to this would be 9/11 because we know the world of sports really stopped for a couple of weeks there as well -- but it also had a rippling effect for months, an entire city, entire nation,” he said. “So, you know, we've seen it before, we dealt with it before and we’ve rebounded before and that's what we expect to do this time.”
DraftKings President Matt Kalish gave an update to users Thursday night. Kalish said in a statement that the betting service will continue to be live. The betting service said it was working on a few things for fans:
“This situation is fluid, so we are actively developing a status page where you can find the latest news on game and contest cancelations and schedule changes, with the goal of providing a one-stop destination for the answers to questions you may have. We will email our customer community as soon as this page is live and we will continue to update it with new information
“We understand that where you have outstanding sportsbook wagers, there may be questions on how these markets will be settled. We are working diligently through all potentially impacted markets to provide clear answers. In addition to consulting the upcoming status page, you can continue to reach out to our customer experience team with any questions in the meantime.
“Given the unique situations that will occur as a result of game cancellations and changes (like the NBA cancellations last night), our commitment is to focus on providing decisions that are fair, consistent with our values, and continue to demonstrate our commitment to providing an industry-leading customer experience”
ESPN offered a fantasy baseball update for leagues that were set to start in two weeks.
“We are aware that the start of the major league baseball season has been delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak,” ESPN said. “As further details of schedule changes are known, ESPN Fantasy Baseball schedules and matchup periods will be adjusted accordingly, ensuring that the start of fantasy baseball season will coincide with the start of the MLB season. We will announce those changes when we have the necessary information to do so.”
There is one thing for certain – sports will return, and fans will be back in the bleachers. The resiliency of the sports fan can never be underestimated.
Former NBA coach George Karl expressed what the sports fan should be feeling.
“It’s an eerie time. It reminds me of similar moments of crisis- 9/11, the Cuban Missle (sic) Crisis and the end of the Vietnam War eg,” he tweeted. “This, too, shall pass. And it could be a chance to help us reunify!”