We are truly in unprecedented times. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) declared the spread of COVID-19 (a specific strain of the coronavirus) a global pandemic. According to Oxford’s dictionary, a pandemic is defined as a disease that is “prevalent over a whole country or the world.” COVID-19 definitely meets that description.
As of March 30, there are more than 784,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 37,000 of the cases being fatal. In the United States, a nationwide effort to help slow the spread of the disease through “social distancing” has drastically changed day to day life.
Companies are sending their workers home, leaving those who cannot work from home in a bind. Children and young adults are out of school, forcing the educational system to switch to an online-based curriculum. Just about every event that would cause people to gather in large quantities has been cancelled. As such, all sporting events have been brought to a strikingly abrupt halt.
On the same Wednesday that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Rudy Gobert became the first professional athlete in the United States to test positive for the disease. Gobert, an all-star center for the Utah Jazz, had been reckless in the days prior to his positive test. In a press conference two days before his diagnosis, Gobert was seen jokingly touching each microphone as he made his exit, an indication that he wasn’t taking the highly contagious pathogen very seriously.
Rudy Gobert mocked Coronavirus by touching all the mics (via MLG Highlights on youtube).
Gobert testing positive for COVID-19 caused an immediate chain reaction in the sports world. The NBA promptly suspended its season later that day, with the MLB, NHL, and MLS following suit the next day.
The NCAA took it one step further and altogether cancelled all of its championship tournaments. Many people were especially upset that the annual “March Madness” college basketball tournaments would no longer be held to decide the country’s national champions in men’s and women’s basketball.
Among those upset about this recent turn of events was basketball superstar LeBron James, who took to twitter to express his feelings concerning the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! D*** it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe,” James said.
Many people concur with this sentiment, connecting James’ comments with the death of his close friend and longtime rival Kobe Bryant in January.
Although large scale college and professional sports are receiving most of the attention right now, grade school sports have been hit just as hard by COVID-19. On March 15, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered that all public schools in the state be closed through the end of March so as not to expedite the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, all afterschool and athletic activities were cancelled. Any and all optimism surrounding spring sports was suddenly made obsolete.
Matthew Shoaf, a defender on South Pointe’s varsity soccer team, expressed disappointment at the cancellation of his senior season.
“I was excited to play soccer for South Pointe this year because it’s the last time I’ll take the field as part of a team. I’ve been growing as an athlete with South Pointe for five years now, starting in middle school. I was excited to see our growth this year… but sadly this was taken away from me by the coronavirus pandemic. All of our work as a team over the years…gone to waste because of this virus,” Shoaf said.
Nolan Faulkenberry, a pitcher on South Pointe’s varsity baseball team, wants to know just how far this iteration of Stallions baseball team could’ve gotten.
“I think it hurts even more now just because I feel like we were on the way up,” Faulkenberry stated. “I feel like we were coming together as a team, and just to have it all dissipate just makes me, at least, wonder what could have been.”
The coronavirus has completely changed the everyday lives of citizens of the United States. Learning to accept this new reality becomes no easier as the absence of sports becomes more and more apparent. Players and fans alike have been taken from one of the few things that brings people together, with seemingly no end in sight. No one knows when life will return to normal but as we wait it’ll be perfectly clear how much worse the situation is without our national pastimes.