The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that it was canceling all winter and spring championships due to the coronavirus. The organization took the action after 15 major basketball conferences canceled their conference playoffs.
The National Hockey League announced it was “suspending” its season and Major League Baseball said it would delay opening day by two weeks. These delays follow actions by the NBA and pro-soccer league, the MLS, to suspend their seasons indefinitely.
All professional leagues stand to lose billions of dollars and the NCAA will also take a huge financial hit.
The men’s basketball tournament has been played every year since 1939, when Oregon won the championship in Evanston, Illinois. It has grown through the years, both in size and stature. The three-week tournament generates almost a billion dollars in revenue each year for the NCAA and its hundreds of member universities and colleges.
Thursday’s decision by the NCAA follows the cancellation of 15 men’s basketball conference tournaments earlier in the day and announcements by the ACC, Big Ten and other leagues suspending all athletic-related activity until further notice.
The NHL seems more optimistic that play will resume someday soon:
“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures,” the league said in a statement. “However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus — and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point — it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.
“We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions — including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”
Talk about optimistic, MLB is only suspending play until the middle of April:
Commissioner Rob Manfred and the league’s owners held a conference call Thursday afternoon to formalize the plan.
“MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible,” MLB said in its statement.
MLB had been scheduled to open its season March 26, with all 30 teams in action.
The efforts being made by state and local governments to combat the spread of coronavirus are becoming more and more severe. The sports leagues were only anticipating what will happen in states where their franchises are located when authorities begin to ban large gatherings, as has already happened in New York and California.
NBA owners want to reevaluate the situation in 30 days when hopefully, the containment efforts will have begun to pay off and new cases of coronavirus infection will have started to fall. Realistically, that’s a remote possibility. In 30 days, we will hopefully have a handle on how serious the epidemic will get and health authorities will be able to tailor our response more accurately.