The COVID-19 Pandemic Trumps Global Sports

The United States sports industry has been halted.

There is not much going on right now on the global sports stage thanks to the coronavirus. The National Basketball Association shut down on Wednesday night and within 18 hours officials from college and university conferences, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association followed the NBA’s lead. Vince McMahon’s XFL shut down its inaugural season. Youth sports suspended action. Just how long this pause will last is anybody’s guess but there seems to be a hope that it could be just a couple of weeks. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio is suggesting that Madison Square Garden and the Brooklyn arena could be closed down for months.  Sports is taking a pause.

This is the first non-labor sports shutdown in the United States since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan in New York and at the Pentagon. Sports has intersected with global problems over the years. In 1918, baseball’s American League owners did not want to play the World Series because of World War I. The National League owners wanted to play. The 1918 World Series took place in September but games were taken off the regular season schedule. In April, 1919, the Stanley Cup playoffs stopped after Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans players came down with Spanish influenza. The Canadiens defenseman Joe Hall died from pneumonia in Seattle four days after the series was halted. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt told the baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis that baseball should go on during World War II. Other sports including the National Football League and the National Hockey League soldiered on. The 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics and the 1944 Summer and Winter Olympics were canceled because of World War II. Real life issues trumped sports but the games will eventually return.