Coronavirus: The sports world comes to an abrupt halt

(News4usonline) There is no way around it. The coronavirus has put everything we have come to know, love and hate about sports in a mind-numbing hiatus period. How long will this stretch of inconvenience last? No one knows for sure. That infamous phrase “the show must go on” does not apply in this case. When it comes to the coronavirus, the show (the world of sports) has come down to a screeching halt.

At least for the time being.

Being safe now is a lot better than being sorry later. That seems to be the message being conveyed by sports and athletic teams, leagues, and clubs across the country. Social distancing has become the two hot new words to be associated with. Right about now, March Madness would be at its heightened frenzy.

Major League Baseball (MLB) and all of the magical nostalgia that comes with the league’s celebrated Opening Day, will have to wait a few weeks for their fans and players to inhale that special moment. Instead of winding down its season and getting prepped and primed for the playoffs, the NBA has hit the indefinite pause button.

Houston Rockets James Harden
February 6, 2020 © Mark Hammond/News4usonline – Houston Rockets star James Harden goes to the basket against the defense of the Los Angeles Lakers.

So that means you won’t see The Beard (Houston Rockets star James Harden) for a while. Forget about seeing LeBron James throwing down a spectacular dunk or flashing a no-look pass for the time being. If you want to see Kawhi Leonard and Paul George do their thing, your best bet is to catch some past game highlights on NBA TV.

“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league announced on March 11 after it was determined that a Utah Jazz player had tested positive for the coronavirus. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward in regards to the coronavirus pandemic.”

As far as the NFL, the coronavirus has not caught up with the league yet. However, the NFL has called off all of its offseason football-related programs and has eliminated all fan events at the NFL Draft (April 23-25) in Paradise, Nevada.

“COVID-19 is dominating the news and our thoughts. This is a dynamic situation that requires both diligence and thoughtfulness,” a statement from the Los Angeles Chargers reads. “We have been closely monitoring the ever-changing conditions relating to COVID-19 and have been implementing recommendations from the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, state and local health departments, medical experts at the World Health Organization and our team’s medical staff, among others.

Chargers lose to Raiders
December 22, 2019 © Mark Hammond/News4usonline – Oakland Raiders defenders converge to tackle Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30). The Raiders defeated the Chargers 24-17 at Health Dignity Sports Park.

Consistent with the National Football League office, and with the health and safety of our communities as a priority, we will require all staff except for operationally critical staff to work from home until further notice.”

This is the hard-rock reality for the sports world. The impact of the coronavirus has hit internationally, causing the delay and postponement of just about everything related to sports activities.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, through a released statement, shed light on how MLB and the ballclub are taking a hard look at the impactful gravity the coronavirus is having in our society at the moment.

“These are unprecedented times, and the health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance to the Los Angeles Dodgers,”  the organization said. “Major League Baseball announced the suspension of all Spring Training games and the delay of the start of the regular season by at least two weeks due to the impact of the coronavirus. In coordination with MLB, we will provide more information about our plans, including our ticket policy for impacted games, as soon as it is available.”

August 25, 2019 © Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline – Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 batters and gave up only four hits in seven innings against the New York Yankees. Three of the four hits that Kershaw allowed were home runs and the Yankees defeated the Dodgers, 5-1, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019.

The NBA, with more than a dozen players testing positive for the coronavirus,  was forced to abruptly suspend its season. The NHL, WNBA, MLS, and other sports, including high school and collegiate sports, have followed suit and have canceled events out of fear that the coronavirus can jump on anyone. At any time.

“The Los Angeles Sparks’ first priority is the health and safety of our fans, players, staff and our entire community. We are closely monitoring all updates and news regarding COVID-19 and working closely with the WNBA who is consulting with infectious disease specialists and following the guidance of the CDC and WHO. We are in direct communication with all our players both in the United States and overseas and ensuring they have all the necessary resources and information to navigate this challenging period. As we move closer to our season opener on May 16 and our home opener on May 31, we will provide further updates as necessary.”

Marquee sports events like the NCAA Tournament (March Madness) got dashed. IndyCar had to pull the plug on the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Sports have always been a getaway from our troubles, trials, and tribulations as a nation. That is not the case when it comes to the coronavirus. It is a disease that does not discriminate.

Even the NFL is not immune from it as one of its star coaches tested positive to the coronavirus. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is reportedly being postponed to a later date in the foreseeable future because of the outbreak.

Los Angeles Sparks play the Seattle Storm in WNBA playoff action
Sept. 15, 2019 – © Mark Hammond/News4usonline – Los Angeles Sparks guard Chelsea Gray scored 21 points and had eight assists to lead the Sparks to a 92-69 playoff win against the Seattle Storm at Staples Center.

“Every day counts,” said U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland and Athletes’ Advisory Council Chair Han Xiao said in a released joint statement. “We remain steadfast in our recommendation that Team USA athletes continue to heed the advice of public health officials and prioritize their health and wellness over all else. At the same time, we are eager to continue to explore alternatives to ensure all athletes have a robust and fulfilling Olympic and Paralympic experience, regardless of when that can safely occur. Together we will find solutions that keep the spirit of the Games alive.”

The waters humanity now walk in seems to be dark and murky as several states, including California, have been requested to obey stay-at-home orders. These orders effectively have interrupted the sports universe for at least for the next month or so as elected and healthcare officials try to get a hold on how to treat and eliminate the threat of the coronavirus.

The social shutdown sports are under is affecting a lot of people. It is not just the athletes who have been impacted by this pandemic. There are plenty of people who make their living in and around sports, either as a coach, someone working in management, classified and non-classified employees, scouts, vendors, security personnel or ushers working arenas where these sporting events take place.

There is also the paying customer to consider as well. The coronavirus has impacted their lives severely. In recognizing this, the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, and STAPLES Center have partnered up to help ease the financial burden of some of these employees by establishing a slush fund

Street car racing was at its finest during the 44th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach over the three-day weekend of April 13 through April 15, 2018. Alexander Rossi captured the coveted Verizon IndyCar Series race on Sunday, April 15. Photos by Astrud Reed/News4usonline

“In response to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the LA Clippers, LA Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and STAPLES Center have joined together to establish a fund to provide financial support to all hourly event staff employees impacted by the suspension of sporting events at STAPLES Center,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

“The fund is designed to provide compensation for wages lost by employees scheduled to work at suspended sporting events through the end of the NBA and NHL regular seasons. Payments from the fund will be distributed to more than 2,800 active hourly event staff which includes ushers, security officers, ticket sellers, ticket takers, parking attendants, merchandise staff, food and beverage employees, housekeeping and operations staff and stagehands, among others.”

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