Sports have always acted as a necessary diversion to real-world problems. That is not the case with coronavirus.
All of sports are in the dark as a result of the coronavirus. We the media that cover this world of fun and games are in the dark. Though, there are always things to write and report.
So, Wednesday evening, I left the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the first round of the Atlantic-10 Basketball championship tournament. There was this empty feeling with the increased cases of the coronavirus.
Sports would come to a halt. The increased attention, rising number of cases in New York and around the nation, all got us to this point.
And then it happened. Sports were shut down. One-by-one. The NBA, NHL, MLS, boxing, golf, marathons, including the prestigious one in Boston. Football, not in season but meetings and conclaves, the first year XFL, all stopped.
It was bound to occur. Safety and precaution for you, me, the athletes and personnel, that is the priority. The wins, losses, amount of points or goals scored, punches thrown in a ring, distances run, pars on the course are all insignificant at this point.
And the anticipated start of Major League Baseball has been pushed back for two weeks, but that is just an estimate.
The start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season could be on hiatus and longer than that two-week time period.
It will take time to adjust as arenas and stadiums go dark. This is a circumstance, from purely a sports perspective, worse than the events and aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Worse, because it has impacted you, me, the city of New York, the world.
The difference, an impact for a long period of time as we adjust.
We can’t fight a virus that is not under control and this comes as the sports analyst, and by no means is this writer a medical authority or pretend to be.
And now we write about a crisis, as we did with the aftermath of those tragic events which briefly disrupted the sports schedule in 2001.
It’s common sense and listening to the authorities that advise how to deal with this situation. But sports are on the sidelines. We are looking in, making adjustments, hoping for the best.
Down in Port St. Lucie, FL at the New York Mets spring training complex, spring training games have been suspended. The game of baseball is in suspension.
“Obviously with the sensitive information, we have to take extra precaution,” said the Mets’ J.D. Davis.
He continues to stay prepared with the entire Mets contingent and hopes that the crisis will pass so the 2020 season can commence.
The Mets as a team remain at their spring training complex down in Port St. Lucie. The Yankees also are in place as they await developments at their base in Tampa.
“As a team, we will continue to get ready for the season,” the Mets J.D. Davis said to ESNY. “It’s definitely different. And we have to improvise to get better every day and be ready. We don’t know the future, however, we have to have the mindset that we are having our opening day in two weeks.”
The Mets’ season opener was two weeks from yesterday. It is assumed when MLB resumes, that the team will still have their season opener at Citi Field.
The Yankees, Friday, released a statement to update fans and the media. They were scheduled to open the season at Baltimore two weeks from yesterday.
“The Yankees fully support this decision and will continue to proactively monitor current events in conjunction with medical experts, government officials and Major League Baseball,” said the statement.
“We recognize that our great fans have a variety of questions. However, given the unprecedented nature and fluidity of what is taking place, we appreciate your patience as we diligently work through the many aspects and details of this continually evolving situation.”
All of this remains to be determined with precaution in place. We are in the dark as is all sports, and listen to the authorities. The nation is in a state of emergency along with New York.
A majority of boxing events around the nation and globe have been canceled.
Though, Top Rank, with two New York-based ESPN televised events, in the span of four days, waited until Thursday night to cancel their events. They will reschedule after their initial plan to promote the boxing cards without fans in attendance at the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theatre.
It was not until the New York State Athletic Commission intervened that resulted in the shows being a no-go. The commission, a state-regulated agency that supervises boxing events, received the call from Albany. The commission consulted with Top Rank and canceled the shows for the safety of personnel and the fighters.
The Garden is dark, could be for months, and with a state of emergency, events with 500 people or more is a risk. The Theatre is in that category of risk.
Lou DiBella, former HBO executive and longtime promoter of fighters, called off his scheduled card of boxing that was scheduled next Thursday at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ.
“I urge all of our fighters and boxing fans to stay safe and follow the advice of health officials,” DiBella said.
And for professional fighters, those who fight on secondary shows that are not mega-events, many depend on the purses they earn.
For others, they will hurt financially with sports in the dark. This time of year, anticipated with the NCAA Tournament, baseball days away, and other sports, will cause millions to be lost in the sports wagering industry.
In the meantime, stadium workers are also victims of this coronavirus pandemic. Concession workers and security personnel at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and the Barclays Center will lose a substantial part of their income.
The players will still get paid. though reductions will come to their contracts as it pertains to a national emergency when games are suspended all according to an agreement with owners and players.
The transition to other things is here. There always will be things to write about. Pick up a book, watch a classic movie. Check on family, friends, and neighbors.
In the meantime, the world of fun and games, sports as it is called, is on hiatus. Even media, those who work on a freelance basis at the arenas and stadiums will see cutbacks and hardship.
And in due time, like all bad situations, this will pass. The coronavirus and implications will become history, talked about for years to come, and we can resume our daily routines.
Take precaution. Be safe, And soon this coronavirus will soon fly out to sea. Remember, sports as that diversion is now secondary.