By Harrison Todd Harwood
One of the ways the coronavirus outbreak has affected communities all over the world is through the cancellation of sports on all levels. The pandemic has impacted the entire spectrum of organized athletics, from middle school lacrosse to major league baseball. The complete cancellation of sports seasons affects athletes still attending school. The NCAA and almost all high school conferences have officially cancelled the Spring athletic season. NEPSAC, the league which The Gunnery belongs to, has officially cancelled all sports seasons this Spring.
Professional sports leagues such as the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League have had their seasons postponed as they plan to resume competition later in the year. Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, which was scheduled for March 26th, has been officially pushed back at least eight weeks. However, NBC Sports reported that there is a chance that the season will start as late as July, the 2020 MLB season the shortest season of baseball since 1903.
Uncertainty is also a large burden affecting the three professional sports leagues. According to CNBC, ad firm MediaRadar estimated that the coronavirus pandemic could cost approximately $1 billion in lost advertising for the broadcasters of the MLB, NHL, and NBA. “We literally added up what all those advertisers were doing for specifically those three sports, and basically it’s a little over a billion dollars over that short period of time,” Todd Krizelman, co-founder and CEO of MediaRadar said. However, it is estimated that broadcasters could make up their lost revenue, even with empty arenas and stadiums, due to the increased amount of viewers watching from home.
2020 marks the first time in history that the Olympics were cancelled or postponed for a reason other than war. On March 24 Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Committee President Thomas Bach officially agreed to postpone the games by one year. However, when the games do begin on Friday, July 3, 2021 they will be referred to as the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. On the financial side of things, the organizers of Tokyo 2020 have estimated the push-back will cost about $12.6 billion while other estimations are gauging approximately $25 billion, according to ESPN’s Kelly Cohen. The crisis has also put the The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in a $200 million cash crunch, which cuts funding for USA’s athletes, impacting their training and livelihoods, as stated by the New York Times.
Other than professional sporting events, the pandemic has dramatically impacted the lives of NCAA and high school athletes. The spring seasons including baseball, track and field, lacrosse, tennis, softball, golf, rowing, men’s volleyball, women’s beach volleyball and waterpolo have been cancelled for young athletes. That means the athletes attending colleges with four year programs are only left with three seasons for their college careers. The NCAA’s Division I, II, and III policies differ, however; an additional year of spring sports eligibility was granted to all of them through the blanket waiver. According to the NCAA, the blanket waiver states, “Any spring sport student-athlete will not be charged with a season of participation or the use of a semester.” The Salt Lake Tribune reported that even though there is a blanket waiver, schools have the option to offer the same, less, or even no financial aid to those student-athletes receiving another year of eligibility.
As the careers of many young athletes will be changed forever, it is important that everyone’s priority is to play their part in flattening the curve. The impact of coronavirus goes far beyond sports and athletic events as the disease has now impacted over 1.5 million people around the globe.