Sports, the NCAA, and the Coronavirus

03/14/2020

Sometimes it can feel like sports are all we have, a vital stabilizer to society, one of few surefire ways to garner the attention of an entire community. It can feel like the world would stop moving before our favorite leagues and teams stopped competing, after all, sports are a trillion-dollar industry that do not seem to slow down for anyone or anything.

At least that was the case until the Coronavirus came out of seemingly nowhere to wreak havoc on the world.

Havoc might be an exaggerative and presumptive word, but, when entire countries are in lock down, schools are closed, events are canceled, and sports leagues are suspended, it can feel like havoc.

Over the last week, leagues around the world have suspended or canceled the remainder of their seasons. Whether it is the Top 5 European soccer leagues, the NBA, the MLB, or the NHL, they've all taken steps to suspend their respective seasons. Perhaps the most important to this region of the world is the NCAA's decision to cancel March Madness, a month long tournament that generates around a billion dollars in revenue every year, yes, B for billion.

It basically became the ultimate test for what the NCAA truly values, their bottom line or the safety of student athletes and society as a whole. Considering all the criticism the NCAA has received in the past, this is an opportunity to give the NCAA credit for making the right decision. Not that they had any other alternatives, but because they did so early and set the precedent for other leagues to follow in containing what has been labeled an epidemic.

As far as contagious diseases go, there is no easier way to spread it across a country than by having an athletic team travel state to state in the midst of a breakout, interacting with teammates, opponents, and thousands of personnel. It's why the NBA suspended the season soon after Rudy Gobert tested positive, and it's why the NCAA had no option.

As far as professional athletes go, it is great to see athletes around the world make financial contributions that help non-essential staff and arena personnel that could otherwise go unpaid. It would be great to see the owners be the ones to take such initiative, but that would show too much empathy and make too much sense.

As far as collegiate athletes go, you have to feel for NCAA and NAIA athletes who may have played in their last game. The NCAA is doing what it can to make eligibility exception for spring athletes, but as for now, this seems to be it for senior collegiate basketball players with no post season tournaments to play for.

The last 48 hours have felt like a full month but life will go on, things will be better and there is more to life than sports. This is for the betterment of all humanity and the protection of those more susceptible than others, sports will be back but this is a reminder that it is all a game at the end of the day. There are more important things in life.

In that regard, for collegiate and professional athletes, what the NCAA did in canceling March madness and all of spring sports is a much needed but unwanted reminder of the cliché - play every game like it's your last, because you never know when it might be.


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