How Will This Situation Turn Out?
It goes without saying that the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is very serious, and thankfully is being taken seriously around the world. The issue is not that it’s a highly deadly disease (the elderly are most at risk), it’s that it’s highly communicable. With that in mind, COVID-19 is throwing everything around the world into flux. Conferences and music festivals have been cancelled, counties are banning large public gatherings, quarantine zones of all sizes are being set up, and the sports world is nothing more than a casualty of this.
Slowly but surely, the dominoes are beginning to fall. The biggest, but not at all surprising, casualty has been Serie A (Italian soccer’s first division). The league, as a whole, has been suspended until at least April 3rd, and top league officials are mulling whether to end the league year now, continue the season after the suspension is over, or institute playoffs (never happened before in European soccer). This comes after Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte locked down the entire country following a coronavirus outbreak in the northern Lombardy region.
In other countries, soccer matches are still going on, but in countries like Spain and France, they will be held in front of empty stadiums. Honestly, watching soccer matches without fans is a very strange experience, but it’s absolutely necessary for safety concerns. However, crowds are still welcome in other countries like England and Germany, which creates some confusion, especially since Europe is relatively small but well interconnected, which could really be a problem regarding transmission.
In the United States, Santa Clara County in California has banned public gatherings of over 1,000 people. As a result, the San Jose Sharks (San Jose is the county’s largest city) have cancelled their final three home games and are currently searching for alternative solutions. As for the MLB, spring training is still going ahead, and the regular season will start on March 26th as scheduled. However, the league is definitely keeping an eye on how the coronavirus problem progresses.
The NBA is monitoring the virus response as well, floating the idea that games would be played sans crowds. Initially, LeBron James reacted to the idea angrily, saying that he wouldn’t play, but he’s since said that he’d be receptive to different viewpoints.
Right now, it’s important to be receptive to ideas of cancelling sports, as upsetting as it may be. The health of the general public is way more important than a bunch of games.