COVID-19’s Impact on Sports

Special to the Oracle

by: Will Hopkins

Art by: Lindsey Powell

            With the outbreak of the Corona Virus, we saw sports leagues go from plans to move forward with no fans, to postponement, and even to cancellation in what seemed like one of the quickest, yet farthest-reaching games of dominoes ever. One day, there were NCAA basketball conference tournament games with fans, and a couple days later, the story of the 2020 postseason–along with the madness it was bound to bring–went unfinished and unwritten.

            Fans across the world (except for those in Belarus still enjoying their soccer league) are experiencing something that they could not have even imagined in their worst nightmares, and although leagues have sought to satisfy viewers’ cravings through their airing of old, classic games, it just is not the same. There is just something special about live sports, something that is missing right now. But what exactly is it?

            First and foremost is entertainment. For many, sports are the supreme form of entertainment. They are unpredictable and thrilling, producing an edge-of-your-seat feeling that few other things on our planet can. Along with this comes the in-person fan experience. We may have to wait even longer for the return of this than for the sports themselves, but there is something unparalleled about being one voice of upwards of 70,000, all screaming for a common reason. In Atlanta this time of year, it’s be for Atlanta United FC, but right now the transfer window is on pause and the stadium is silent. Despite its short lifespan to this point, the club has an unmatched culture within the MLS, and the fans are possibly the biggest piece in the amazing puzzle that is Atlanta United.

            Most years, in early spring, sports are not a part of the calendar. Sports are the calendar. March brings one of the most magical times of the year with Cinderellas and Blue Bloods battling it out for three weeks in a win-or-go-home 68-team collegiate basketball tournament. Players give it their all for their one shining moment, and all of America gets in on the fun, as a bracket craze takes over the nation. This year the national semifinals and national championship were set to take place in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium to add to the already illustrious list of events hosted in Arthur Blank’s glorious facility. The cancellation of the tournament was a letdown for fans and players alike.

            Not long after that was supposed to be A Tradition Unlike Any Other, The Masters, also hosted nearby. The annual golf tournament from the otherworldly beautiful Augusta National had fans buzzing. Would Tiger Woods defend his crown? Now we must wait. We must wait until November as of now, but no, it will not be the same. The green is unlikely to be as green. The azaleas not in their usual bloom. The weather, not in its peaceful bliss.

            The NBA and NHL playoffs were set to be next up. Synonymous with rugged, tough play, these two postseasons are normally the cherry on top of long, grueling seasons. The intensity picks up, in hockey the beards grow long, and in basketball stars become legends.

   Right now we miss the soft pillow and blanket of sports. They are a comfort to fall back on after a long day at work or school; something to look forward to, whether it be that night, weeks away, or every single year. Sports are often a relaxing release from our crazy, hectic lives. In unprecedented, difficult periods, we’ve fallen back on them. After the Boston Bombing, the Red Sox brought the city together. Similarly, the New York baseball teams accomplished this after 9/11. Right now we want and maybe even need sports, but they are no longer here.

            With all that we miss we have two options: First we can sit in sadness, missing the simpler times. Or we can do our part. We may not be professional athletes, but as many of them have put it, this is our opportunity to play for millions. By play I mean stay at home, and by millions, or even billions, I mean the world. We must strive to pass up unnecessary risks and act in a way that we can look back at the end of this unprecedented period of time and say to ourselves, “I helped to end this outbreak as soon as possible.” This way, we can see the swift return of the sports we love.

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