A Year Ago, COVID-19 Stopped Sports

Sports has made a bumpy comeback.

A year ago, the sports world stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Basketball Association shut down on the night of March 11th 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. On March 12th, 2020, no one knew how long the pause would last but there was a hope that it would only last a couple of weeks. The pause stayed in place for months and has not completely gone away. There are still games being postponed but sports leagues and organizations have tried to soldier on because there is still a significant source of revenue to be made from television.  

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 the 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 carried on. The 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics and the 1944 Summer and Winter Olympics were canceled because of World War II. In the United States, the September 11th terrorist attacks stopped sports.  But eventually the games must go on.

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FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2020, file photo, spectators wear face masks to protect against COVID-19 during the first half of an NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Baltimore. A new set of rules are coming in just about every sport, almost all with enhanced health and safety in mind. If they work, games could get out of bubbles and return to arenas and stadiums with some fans in attendance sometime soon. Perhaps more importantly, they could also provide some common-sense solutions to virus issues in the real world.(AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)