COVID-19's Trail of Postponements
Over the past two months, the world as we know it has been turned upside down, both economically and socially.
Over the past two months, the world as we know it has been turned upside down, both economically and socially. In the sports world, almost all major tournaments and seasons have been postponed without a timetable for return or even canceled, including the National Basketball Association (NBA) season, the NCAA March Madness tournament, the National Hockey League (NHL) season, the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. The sports world will be forever changed because of the COVID-19 virus, but here are a few of the more tangible, immediate differences.
One of the major postponed events, the 2020 Olympic Games, was originally supposed to be held in Tokyo, Japan in July and August. On March 19, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially postponed the Games until the summer of 2021. This action was unprecedented, as the Olympics have not been postponed or canceled due to any reason other than war. Until the IOC's final decision, many countries, including Canada and Australia, applied pressure on the committee to delay the events, declaring they would not send their athletes to Tokyo. The fallout for the postponement, although necessary, will be extremely costly, as experts have estimated that Japan will lose an additional $2.7 billion in addition to the cost of hosting, as reported by Japanese newspaper Nikkei. In addition, the broadcasting network industry and sponsors of the events will collectively be changing their habits by billions of dollars as they can no longer focus on the Olympics. The event has always been an unrivaled gathering of the world's best athletes, and the uncertainty over its occurrence has saddened many athletes and fans.
The Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour also shifted around its schedule, moving the Masters Tournament, the PGA Championship, the Open Championship, and the U.S. Open Championships. The Masters, which takes place at the Augusta National Golf Club, has been moved from beginning on April 9 to November 12, and the delay will affect the event and location in a number of ways. From personal experience walking through Augusta Regional Airport and talking to a cab driver, the Masters keeps the city afloat. Many restaurants only open three days out of the year, specifically for the Masters, and tourism during the tournament keeps the hotels, motels, and airport operating. The city's businesses rely on their Masters income to meet their annual expenses, so the delay will leave them without expected revenue for a serious period of time. For the players, young golfers like Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas, the delay will provide time to develop and train. But for older players like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the delay may undermine their careers. Woods recently said that he was physically ready to play in the Masters if the event had happened, and given the renowned player has dealt with numerous back injuries over the course of his career, so his playing days will likely be forced to end soon. Hopefully, Woods will be ready to play in November, but it's possible that the golf world may have seen the last of Woods in the Masters, a tournament he has dominated over the past few decades.
The NBA, one of the most popular sports leagues globally, was forced to suspend its season indefinitely abruptly on March 11 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. The players chasing individual awards and the teams on pace to do well in the playoffs will end the season feeling most disappointed. Rookie sensation Zion Williamson's NBA career didn't begin until January 22 due to an injury, but once he began playing, it appeared that Williamson could race Memphis Grizzly Ja Morant closely for the NBA's Rookie of the Year (ROY) award. Left unconcluded, NBA fans will still ponder who would have won and how well Williamson and Morant could have performed towards the end of the season. Beyond the ROY award, the idea of not having an NBA champion this year is foreign, as there hasn't been a champion-less NBA season in almost 75 years. Who gets to be crowned champion, if any team? Will the 2021 season count more heavily to compensate? Realistically, there will be no NBA champion this year and likely no individual awards either. The NBA community will lose a postseason, which would've displayed promising young talent as well as superstar dominance.
The world has struggled with the COVID-19 virus for the past couple months, and sadly that struggle will prolong into the future. Politicians and sports leagues are growing skeptical on whether these events will happen at all. Fans and businesses will suffer, but if there is any silver lining, it is that we all now feel more gratitude for the sports that have become such an important part of our lives.