by Jim Buzzerd
Last Thursday Coronavirus caused the sports world to come to a grinding halt. Actually, the beginning of the end began Wednesday night when the NBA suspended its season when Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. Later, teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive. Prior to that the NCAA had already announced that March Madness would be played with no fans in the stands. Most conference tournaments, which were getting into full swing, announced they would also play in empty arenas.
These contingencies had been on the table for a few weeks, but as it all began to unfold you could see where it was headed. By mid morning Thursday several Power Five conferences, which had already begun their events on Tuesday and Wednesday, had cancelled their remaining games for the week. The Big 12 waited until about an hour before its 12:30 p.m. tip to cancel its tournament. The Big East actually began play between St. Johns and Creighton before cancelling at halftime.
The NCAA had not updated its decision to play the tournament at that point, but it was only a matter of time before that announcement would come, and it did in short order. At first there was some indication officials were considering options to try to play the event at a later date, but the logistics of playing a 68-team event on undetermined dates at unknown locations would be impossible.
College football is my favorite spectator sport, but I write here almost annually how March Madness is a close second. I mean college basketball in general is second on my spectator list, but in March college basketball really ramps up the intensity. To top it off the Final Four ends the basketball season on Monday night and the Masters, also way up on my spectator list, tees off on Thursday. The Masters also fell victim to the virus as officials announced the event would be postponed. I’ve seen reports that an October date is being considered.
Early reaction was mixed. I saw where some were claiming all of this paranoia is an overreaction. Others agreeing that the response is due diligence. Those in the overreaction front have backed off in the days since. I understand most people with the virus will be just fine with rest and home confinement. The problem is to the elderly and other high-risk groups the virus can be deadly, because treatments are still unknown.
Officials may have been slow to react properly, but given the unknowns they are dealing with the current course of action seems to be the only choice. As a sports fan, I want this disruption to last weeks and not months. Look out if this virus affects football season!