COLUMN: Looking back a year into COVID-19 and Sports

Breaking down the timeline of cancelations and mindset as they happened

Brady's Roadhouse

March 11, 2020, a day that will live in infamy. I will never forget where I was or what I was doing when the COVID-19 pandemic really started to take over the United States, especially the way it affected the sports world.

The day before on March 10, 2020, the IVY League canceled its conference tournament, and I thought to myself then, “They’ll be the only conference to cancel their tournament.” Boy was I wrong there, and little did I know that was just the beginning.

Then came March 11. The first big news of the day in the sports world came at 1:43 p.m. when the Golden State Warriors announced that their game the next day against the Brooklyn Nets was going to be played without fans.

At that time not really paying much attention to the virus, I thought it was really just a big deal in Washington State, New York City, and California. So, I didn’t think it was a bad idea for the Warriors not to have fans so the virus wasn’t spread to the other organizations.

Later that day at 4:34 p.m. the NCAA announced that both the Men’s and Women’s college basketball tournament would be held without fans. I was very upset about this one. March Madness is my absolute favorite time of year. The all-time great March Madness moments are made so much greater by the crowd reactions, but I was still happy to see that the tournament was still going to be played, or at least I thought It was… 

At 5:47 p.m. the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL announced that they would play without fans indefinitely, and within the next hour the San Jose Sharks announced that they were going to play without fans through the rest of March.

This one got me thinking that we were probably just going to see games without fans just until the end of the month and that this virus would lose its clout. I thought things would eventually die off and be back to normal in less than a month. I really wish I was right with this take.

At 8:39 p.m. the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder game was postponed out of nowhere. My first thought was that one of the players had COVID-19, and I just remember all of the rumors coming out. Then it was announced that Rudy Gobert was out because of illness, but it wasn’t confirmed that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

I just remember watching it live and thinking, “things are about to get bad.” And they did as less than an hour later, the NBA came out to confirm that Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the NBA was suspending the season. This is when I was scared the most, but I still thought it might only be at most a month.

I can still remember watching games and seeing fans and players’ reactions to the news of the season being suspended. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban seeing in his phone about the season and his jaw hitting the floor is an image I’ll never forget. 

Then at the Atlanta Hawks game people weren’t sure if it would be future hall of famer Vince Carter’s last NBA game ever (which it did end up being). I was then finding myself wanting to watch the New Orleans Pelicans at the Sacramento Kings because it was going to be the last NBA game for the foreseeable future, but both teams agreed not to play the game.

It was just a weird day all-in-all in sports and I thought maybe the next day would be better. I was wrong once again, and you could argue that March 12, 2020 was worse in the sports world.

At 10:49 a.m. it came out that Donavon Mitchell of the Utah Jazz also tested positive for COVID-19. At 11:45 the Big Ten was the first tournament to be canceled that day, and it would start a chain reaction, including in the Big East tournament, where Creighton vs. St. Johns was called at halftime. Less than 30 minutes later the NHL came out and suspended its season. Two hours after that the MLB pushed back the start of its season. Lastly, the dagger in my heart was the NCAA canceling the NCAA Tournament. 

Now looking back one year later the sports world has made it a long way, considering most of us didn’t know how long it would last or if we would ever see sports again. The three major sports that had to stop their seasons all picked back up and finished their seasons. Collegiate athletics have resumed, and as I write this the NCAA tournament starts in less than a week. 

With COVID-19 vaccines being distributed and people are getting vaccinated, it looks more and more like we are closer to the finish. We are getting back to where we started, and we are inching closer and closer to getting back to normal.