The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the sports world, its effects being felt as much as everywhere else. Some assert that there has been too much focus placed on the virus and that the media is hyping an otherwise nominal health issue as a worldwide epidemic in order to improve ratings. Here’s the thing, though. With previous coronavirus outbreaks, the mortality rate has been ten times greater than that of the flu, according to the World Health Organization.
There have also been cases where the virus has appeared despite any visible link of it having been transferred from one person to another, and it has been able to spread extremely rapidly in areas where containment efforts weren’t launched quickly. With these points being understood, it is definitely better to take additional precautions, despite the impact that the adjustments will have. The sports community is doing its part and isn’t taking any chances, and changes being made now are going to allow the leagues to continue operating normally later on.
Coronavirus Effects Sports Leagues
MLB, MLS, the NBA and the NHL have issued a press release indicating that all locker rooms and clubhouses are now off-limits to everyone, except players, coaches and other team personnel. Their statement reads, “After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s games and practices.”
The Ivy League is also pulling both the Men’s and the Women’s Basketball tournaments, which would have taken place this weekend in Massachusetts. Santa Clara County in California has issued a moratorium on all gatherings of 1,000 or more people, which could mean the San Jose Sharks are going to have to play to an empty arena when at home. A media summit scheduled to be held by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in LA has also been canceled.
The Indian Wells tennis tournament, scheduled to start its qualifying matches yesterday, had to be axed, as well. Even the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony coming up in Greece will be off-limits to everyone, the first time in over 35 years that no one will be able to see the symbolic gesture.
While the NBA is looking for teams to lay out their anti-coronavirus plans and want players to avoid high-fiving fans, operations behind the scenes are being impacts, as well. For instance, MLB had started an investigation of the Boston Red Sox over alleged cheating, but has had to put the investigation on hold “indefinitely” as it allocates almost the entirety of its resources into ensuring the league won’t be compromised by the virus.
NFL Draft & March Madness
For now, the NFL doesn’t anticipate having to reschedule next month’s draft, but there could be a smaller crowd participating in the event. That’s about the extent of the league’s efforts since there isn’t a lot of football going on right now. The NFL did, however, cancel its Consumer Products Summit.
As noted, it isn’t just sports that are impacted – popular game shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are now being taped in front of empty seats. Concert tours and music festivals are being called off, and casinos and airlines are cutting back on operations. However, the response seems to be paying off, and it looks like the coronavirus may be coming to the end of its run. That’s good news for baseball and basketball fans, as it should mean that the MLB season and the NCAAF March Madness tournament should be able to move forward without any problems.