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COVID-19 and It's Impact on the Global Sports Community

With the year 2020 getting closer to its halfway point, no matter what takes place in the sports world the rest of this year, history will remember 2020 for being the year “without sports.”

The question that remains now amidst this COVID-19 crisis is whether or not we will see any sports in the 8 ½ months that remain. The world has already lost some very major events that have not been postponed but worse, canceled altogether.

This Summer was supposed to be the year of the Olympics in Japan but now it’s been moved to 2021. If you are a golf fan, forget the Masters. There will be no green jacket suited up for any golfer in 2020 because it’s been officially canceled. Many were hoping to see another dramatic Tiger Woods victory. What the crisis is doing to some athletes is making it difficult to chase records. Woods is trying to catch up to Jack Nicklaus for most major victories ever in the PGA. But with the Masters cast aside and the British Open following suit, Woods will have to wait another year to chase down those two titles. The Players Championship was also canned in Jacksonville, Florida.

For the National Basketball Association, they had 20 or so games to play before the virus killed the remainder of their season and that league is in flux as to whether they will resume or simply cancel the rest of their 2019-2020 season and close it out without crowning a champion.

As we all know, the NCAA tournaments were all canceled thus no “March Madness.” The NCAA also shelved all their remaining winter and spring sports. Major League Baseball is still idle as they wait for the green light to move forward. But already by now two weeks of the season was supposed to be played and the fact that spring training was canceled means players are most likely not ready to play. Whatever the outcome, if games begin again, it certainly won’t be on a 162 game schedule which is the norm.

Baseball relies heavily on fan attendance so there is talk about playing in empty stadiums but that would mean no revenue for owners. That simply won’t work. You have to feel for the people who work these stadiums during the season because they are obviously out of work thus not earning an income.

Like the NBA the National Hockey League had its season cut short and given the length of their season much like basketball we are likely going to see no more hockey until the next season starts…if it does. No Stanley Cup playoffs or champion in 2020, count on that.

If you like horse racing, officials are holding out hope that the annual running of the Kentucky Derby will still be held and the 146th race in history has been postponed until September. The debut of the XFL authored by WWE’s kingpin Vince McMahon was cut short. Soccer got hit as well with the suspension of the MLS for at least 30 days.

As for the National Football League, they still plan on holding the annual draft a few weeks from now but will be done so “virtually” as owners and coaches will be making their selections from the comforts of their own home. This will be the most ridiculous draft in history. Then there is the OTAs, mini-camps, and training camp much of will be lost. Perhaps training camps can survive but just trying to have a season seems in doubt as does NCAA football.

Then there is mixed martial arts. UFC President Dana White was going to forge ahead with April 18th’s UFC 249 which originally was supposed to be Tony Ferguson challenging lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for his championship but Khabib said he was stuck in Russia because of that country’s restrictions on travel and so he is out, replaced by Justin Gaethje. But Dana White decided to call it off as COVID-19 has become more wide-spread.

The co-main event was supposed to be a rematch between Rose Namjunes and Jessica Andrade but the former champion Namajunes pulled out for an undisclosed reason. Andrade was on the card as a replacement is sought. Francis Ngannou battles a rising star in Jairzinho Rozenstruik while Ex NFL player Greg Hardy would have battled undefeated Yorgan De Castro as Hardy comes off his first clear cut loss. But, now that's not going to happen either.

The card was going to feature Niko Price vs. Vincente Luque, Jeremy Stephens taking on Calvin Kattar. There were more good fights with Ronaldo Souza and Uriah Hall meeting up after Marlon Vera fights Ray Borg. Ryan Spann gets in the Octagon with “Smiling” Sam Alvey and on the Fight Pass card, Michael Johnson appears again facing off against another up and comer in Khama Worthy.

If Dana White had pulled it off, the fights would have been held "fan-less." No fans would have been allowed to attend. Unfortunately, UFC 250 scheduled for May 9 has now taken a major hit as the card slated to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil is now having the arena where the fights were supposed to go down used as a field hospital for treatment of COVID-19 patients. That announcement means there will be no highly anticipated battle between Jose Also and Henry Cejudo. Also off the card are Ketlen Vieira, Bethe Correia, Augusto Sakai, and Carlos Felipe.

If you love sports, you are either going through major withdrawals or like me, turning your interests and free time elsewhere. When and if any sport returns, owners and athletes are in for a major problem. They will find out how loyal fans are and how much money is left in their pockets to even be able to buy a ticket for any event. The athletes with guaranteed contracts and that have been completing for years are probably financially secure for the time being but those in MMA, they only get paid when they fight and right now they are not fighting thus not earning an income from their sport.
All we have now is a discussion on the radio about what happens when sports do return if they do. On television, it’s re-broadcast after re-broadcast. I have yet to watch any of that. Instead, I have found myself joining my wife late at night before calling it a day watch the old “World’s Strongest Man” competitions. I never knew how entertaining that competition was!

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson

Writer

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