It all started innocently enough on Thursday, March 11 with an announcement that the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments would continue with a limited number of spectators in attendance.
Sure, fans thought it would be a little odd to watch March Madness without the stands full of people cheering for their favorite underdog, but at least the sports world would go on. That was supposed to be the silver lining.
And then, one by one, the dominoes began to fall.
By that same night, it was discovered that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus, which prompted the NBA’s decision to suspend the rest of the 2019-20 regular season, as well as the playoffs. It came as a shocking move at first, but as the days went on, the list of leagues following suit began to grow exponentially.
On March 12, the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments were canceled altogether, followed by the remainder of all remaining college winter and spring sports, including spring practices for the University of Texas football team. It was also announced that Major League Baseball had pushed back opening day at least two weeks, from March 26 to April 9.
The cancellations and postponements continued to sweep through the Lone Star State on March 13 as both the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) suspended their current high school sports seasons for a minimum of two weeks. In the case of TAPPS, the return of athletic activity was pushed past Easter Sunday (April 12).
The UIL state boys basketball tournament was put on hold literally while it was being played, as the announcement regarding the suspension of games came at halftime of the Class 3A semifinal between Dallas Madison and Coldspring-Oakhurst at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The UIL has since announced that it plans to complete the state tournament “at some point in the future.”
Even the XFL shuttered its doors by cutting the 2020 season short, much to the dismay of football enthusiasts craving their fix until August rolled around.
By March 14, it was apparent that the spreading COVID-19 pandemic wouldn’t be just a passing trend. With the exception of the UFC, every major athletic organization in the country had altered its plans due to the virus.
Perhaps the only fans relieved by the postponements were in Houston, as the coronavirus stole all the headlines away from the Astros’ recent sign stealing scandal and subsequent fallout.
The only question remaining is simple — now what?
As of right now, there doesn’t seem to be an answer other than wait and hope. Some have used their spare time to gather around the house with family and watch movies or play video games. Some rediscovered their rec rooms and have already played countless games of billiards or air hockey.
Others tried to see how much toilet paper they could cram into their carts during a single trip to the grocery store.
On a serious note, it’s no secret that sports are an integral part of the nation and can provide a much-needed distraction when times get tough. Here’s hoping they return as soon as possible, and that the precautionary measures taken by all of the leagues worldwide will pay off and help limit the impact of COVID-19.
In the meantime, we’ll be patiently waiting until the next tipoff, pitch or starter’s pistol. Until then, stay safe everyone.
The Texas Sports Monthly PODCAST
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