Sports fans use their fandom at times to shield themselves from problems in the world. March 11th started the process of removing the proverbial blinders. Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19, with the results being released just minutes before tipoff of a game between the Jazz and Thunder on Wednesday night. Gobert’s positive test forced the Jazz and Thunder to be placed into quarantine, with the Jazz stuck in a road locker room for six hours. On Thursday morning Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for Covid-19. After the initial positive test the NBA announced that it would suspend the season for an indefinite amount of time.
This has an immediate impact locally. Obviously the Celtics season is on hold, but the NHL replicated the same action meaning the Bruins 2019-20 season is also on hold. Perhaps more concerning, Gobert was inside the TD Garden on Friday night for a matchup between the Jazz and Celtics, meaning that the C’s and any other teams the Jazz faced over the past 10 days or so will be in quarantine. It is worth noting that the TD Garden also held a high school state basketball tournament, with hundreds of fans in attendance, on Tuesday and Wednesday. The basketball tournament was scheduled to move to Worcester, but the championships for both MA High School hockey and basketball were cancelled.
Along with the suspension of the NBA and NHL seasons, MLB has suspended spring training and will delay opening day by two weeks as of now. The Boston marathon has been postponed and numerous collegiate conferences announced that their spring sports schedules would be cancelled. MLS also announced that they too would be suspending their schedule for 30 days.
This is a concerning time, especially if you were in an arena or at a stadium over the past couple of weeks. Health is the top concern, but there are some things to think about from a sports and financial standpoint.
As far as the NCAA tournament is concerned, students will not be able to partake in potentially their final basketball games ever. Teams like Illinois, Seton Hall and Dayton, who were having in some cases their best season in years, won’t be able to have students celebrate such a big accomplishment. Conference basketball tournaments have been cancelled, which means a team might not have a chance to pull off an upset and force their way in to the big dance.
When it comes to the NBA and NHL, there are financial concerns and championship concerns. If the sports come back how do they determine a champion? Do we just start another season and almost forget about this one? For what it’s worth, the Chinese Basketball Association, which halted play, is starting to get back to work after a layoff of about eight weeks. Not that a pandemic should make for cookie cutter cases, but the two sports by this timeline could start the playoffs around May 1st, with a best of three or five and go from there.
Reading social media, people are saying this is overblown and a big deal is being made over a different flu. Perhaps to illustrate how serious it’s being taken we should look at some of the money being lost. An average NBA game between tickets and concessions can make around $3 million per night during the regular season, and more in the postseason. The NHL would probably come out to around the same amount per night. Would owners surrender that amount of money over something that’s overblown?
This is an anxious time in sports and the world as a whole, and nobody knows when we’ll get back to talking about players on the court, ice and fields. For now, it’s safety first and getting through this as a team, and before you know it we’ll start complaining about too much Brady talk and Chris Sale's arm.