National and Major Sports Leagues Suspend All Regular Seasons Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Many national and major sports leagues announced they would be suspending all gameplay indefinitely due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) became the first sports league to announce this suspension on March 11, after Rudy Gobert, player for the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the virus. 

“We made this decision to safeguard the health and well-being of fans, players, everyone connected to our game and the general public,” says Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA. “This hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.”

Following suit was Major League Soccer (MLS), which announced on March 12 they would be suspending game play for 30 days. The league will assess the impact of the virus with its medical team and public health officials, and has a target of May 10 for players to be back on the field.

The National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also put a halt to their seasons over concerns that large public gatherings will act as a hotspot for the spread of coronavirus.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has taken the precautionary step of postponing their spring training games and delaying the start of the season to mid-May. This comes after initially discussing plans to push Opening Day from March 26th to April 9th.

Prior to WHO’s March 11 classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic, sports leagues proposed various solutions to avoid any fan and player contact. This included scheduling games to occur with no crowd in attendance and relocating games to other venues. 

However, with the crisis worsening, on March 15, the CDC recommended organizers to cancel or postpone gatherings of 50+ people in the United States for eight weeks. Since then, the health of team members and the public have been put first, as league organizers pulled the plug on sports.

Since March 19, over 25 sports figures have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including soccer player Daniele Rugani, basketball player Kevin Durant, and Japan Olympic Committee deputy chief Kozo Tashima. 

With the uncertainty of whether sports seasons will be cancelled or continued, sports figures have expressed their sadness, boredom, and pleas for prevention. 

Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James took to Twitter to vent about isolation and how difficult the year 2020 has been. James also lost friend and fellow player Kobe Bryant earlier this year. “Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe,” said James in a tweet

In light of the pandemic, sports agency Octagon opened up the fundraiser Athletes for COVID-19 Relief for athletes to donate money, memorabilia, and supplies to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund. These funds will be used to help support those most in need. 

“Many athletes were asking for a place to do more in addition to personal private donations they are each doing, so we really just wanted to create a platform for all athletes to participate, give, share and raise money to provide relief for those in need,” said David Schwab, executive-vice president at Octagon.  

So far, athletes and coaches from all different sports leagues, including David Ortiz, Stephen Curry, Micheal Phelps, and Simone Biles, have taken part in the Octagon’s COVID-19 Relief fundraiser. 

In addition, many NBA teams have announced their own ways of helping arena workers during this unfortunate situation, with players and coaches donating money to pay for the venue staff’s missed shifts for the next 30 days. 

Kevin Love was the first NBA player to announce he would be donating $100,000 to help with the fear and anxiety resulting from the pandemic. “I’m concerned about the level of anxiety everyone is feeling which is why I’m committing $100,000 through the @kevinlovefund in support of the @cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season,” Love said  in a statement posted to his Instagram account. “I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities.” 

Sports fans from all over have taken to social media to react to the leagues’ recent hiatus with many attempting to cope with the recent news. However, the big question still remains: “When will sports make its return?” 

An official timeframe as to when sports leagues will begin agian has yet to be announced.