What’s up with pro sports?
Professional sports in the United States — tennis, basketball, football, hockey and baseball — are all being suspended, postponed, or canceled altogether, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 8, the BNP Paribas Open, located in Indian Wells, CA, was canceled by tournament organizers, becoming one of the first professional sports entities to cancel an event in the U.S. because of the coronavirus outbreak. Following the cancellation of the prestigious Indian Wells tournament, several other tournaments in the country have done the same, such as the Miami Open (another WTA Premier Mandatory/ATP Masters 1000 event), as well as lower level tournaments internationally. All Association of Tennis Professionals Tour events have been canceled or postponed until April 27, while the Women’s Tennis Association followed, canceling all tour events through the Charleston clay court tournament. While the ATP instituted a six week suspension, the WTA was more reluctant to enact a full suspension, and instead opted to cancel only upcoming tournaments. Furthermore, the International Tennis Federation has suspended all events until April 20, when the upcoming tournament schedule will be reevaluated. As of present, the next two Grand Slam tournaments — the French Open and Wimbledon — are still on schedule, though the start to the clay court season will be significantly delayed.
On March 11, the National Basketball Association announced the suspension of the regular season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Since news of Gobert testing positive broke, teammate Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Also with this news, the NBA said that Gobert came into contact with more than 50 players and 15 referees, in addition to his own teammates and coaches. Since the beginning of March, Gobert and the Jazz have come into contact with several other teams, which is the primary reason that the NBA suspended the rest of the regular season until further notice. Though Utah’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was immediately cancelled, the Jazz had played the Pistons, Celtics, Knicks, Cavaliers, and Wizards. As a result, many members of these various teams are engaging in self-quarantine measures, as are various other teams around the league. Some view the suspension of the NBA’s regular season as abrupt, as most teams only have around 20 games remaining, and playoffs are set to start in April.
After the National Football League canceled its Annual League Meeting due to the threat posed by the coronavirus, individual teams have responded, suspending all travel before the draft for coaches and scouts. As of March 12, teams including the Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints have opted to suspend or adjust their pre-draft travel plans. Further, the NFL intends to evaluate their plans for the 2020 NFL Draft, with the league contemplating the state of the draft in the coming days — though at present, the draft remains on schedule to take place on April 23.
A week prior to this announcement, the National Hockey League took steps to restrict media access to NHL clubhouses, while players were brought to designated interview areas. Now, the NHL has suspended the rest of the regular season. On March 12, the NHL informed teams that the rest of the regular season was being suspended. Prior to canceling the rest of the season, the league had already canceled morning practices, informing teams that they should plan to reschedule games for later dates. While no NHL player has tested positive for COVID-19, the league will not resume play until it is deemed safe to do so.
Major League Baseball announced on March 12 that the remainder of spring training in Arizona and Florida will not continue, thereby also delaying the start of the regular season. While MLB suspended all spring training games, games continued the afternoon of March 12. In fact, the league’s announcement came while some spring training games in Florida were in progress. Additionally, the start of the 2020 regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks, not beginning until after April 9, according to a statement from MLB. The season was originally scheduled to begin on March 26. However, with spring training canceled, MLB has not announced plans for player practices before the beginning of the regular season. Notably, MLB was the last major sports league in the U.S. to act in response to the new developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, following the decision of the NHL earlier in the day on March 12.