Changes to national and international sports

By Hiba Samdani, Staff Reporter, and Ananya Kulkarni, Sports Editor

Introduction

With a third of the world under restriction due to the Covid-19 pandemic, professional sports are no exception to social distancing.

The future of many tournaments, leagues and championships remains uncertain as many organisations have decided to suspend, postpone or cancel their seasons entirely in order to ensure the safety of players and spectators.

However, as a concrete date to lift restrictions seems to be moving farther away due to the spread of the virus, many national sports have found alternative ways in which they can run their season which keep the safety of players and officials in mind. Here is a look at how some professional sports are adjusting to these changes.

National Sports

Basketball

NBA and WNBA

After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus before a game against the Thunder, the NBA postponed its 2019-2020 season, causing many sports organizations to reconsider the rest of their seasons. The following day, the NBA G league and 2K league also postponed their seasons. While the WNBA is currently in its off-season, they plan to structure the format of future events such as their 2020 draft keeping any changes that may arise due to the virus in mind. Finally, the NCAA canceled March Madness to protect the players, fans and coaches. To keep the professional players busy, ESPN hosted a NBA 2k tournament and H-O-R-S-E tournament that players could participate in from the safety of their homes. Although ESPN did create these alternatives, junior Jack Susanin doesn’t feel like they have the same effect as following the regular season.

“While they were entertaining for a little bit, they just didn’t fill my sports craving. I understand that ESPN needed to put something on TV, however seeing players not go at it as hard and just not look like their normal selves was weird,” Susanin said.

Football 

XFL 

    The Xtreme Football League or XFL is a football league played in the spring with a variety of players, from alumni college stars to retired NFL players. The XFL was only five weeks into its inaugural season when officials decided to cancel the season. The league brings football fans games in the spring and has slightly different rules from the NFL.

 “I miss the kickoff and extra point changes the XFL made. I thought these were pretty innovative and piqued my interest in the league to begin with,” said social studies teacher Aaron Lockard. 

Unfortunately, it had to lay off many of its employees, but it still plans to play a full season in 2021.

While Lockard is disappointed with the XFL’s cancellation among many others, he is still looking forward to the start of the school’s regular season this coming fall.

“I really look forward to the fall, not just for football, but field hockey and soccer are huge at Conestoga,” Lockard said. “I am really just excited to get back and watch some star athletes get back out there and have fun.”

Hockey

On the same day the NBA suspended its season, the NHL decided to take a pause, too. The regular season was scheduled to end on April 4 and the Stanley Cup Playoffs would begin on April 6. Because many of the NHL players share the same facilities as NBA players, they decided to suspend the league. 

As of May 18, the NHL league office has not reached a final decision. However, they are currently leaning towards concluding the 2019-2020 season and moving directly into playoffs with a proposed 24-team format instead of restarting the season with all 31 teams. 

NASCAR

After the postponement of all auto racing events through May 3, NASCAR announced their revised May schedule on April 31, with the first of seven races in 11 days starting on May 17 taking place at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. To ensure the safety of participants, none of the events were open to spectators and none of the events had practice sessions. Everyone entering the facilities were administered health screenings, and maintained social distancing measures. NASCAR plans to announce more race dates at a later time. 

Baseball

MLB

After the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons, the MLB decided to delay the start of their own season as well as cancel spring training. The minor league has delayed the start of the season indefinitely. The 2020 MLB draft has also been postponed to July and will be shorter than usual. Currently, it is most likely that the MLB season will follow the Arizona Plan. This plan essentially proposes that all 30 teams will be quarantined in hotels and play the game in Phoenix, Arizona. This plan would also mean that no fans would be able to attend the game and players are required to practice social distancing. 

 “I think the lack of fans present will actually be a bigger effect than most people are thinking because a lot of teams use their fans’ energy to perform better,” junior Charlie Sisian said. “Playing on a dead silent field will be very different for them.” 


International 

2020 Olympics

Similarly, the Chief Executive of the games moved the 2020 Summer Olympics to 2021. Past the postponement of the major event, this also puts some athletes in a difficult position as many of them may need to put a hold on their training to support their families financially.

“It is a sad irony that the people who bring their countries immense honor and pride, may be unable to support their families,” freshman Kovid Tandon said. 

Although it was declared that the games have been postponed, there is no guarantee that they will take place next year. Not only has a date not been finalized, but many people remain unsure when the quarantine will end.

“I am slightly disappointed that the Olympics have been postponed as I was really excited to watch them. I feel that the Olympics really helped to bring the world together and encouraged a sort of global unity,” Tandon said. 


Hiba Samdani can be reached at [email protected]

Ananya Kulkarni can be reached at [email protected]