Coronavirus spread halts sports leagues, leaves arenas empty

Coronavirus%2C+which+has+spread+across+the+globe%2C+has+not+infected+anyone+in+the+Grady+community.+However%2C+it+has+indirectly+impacted+their+lives.+

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus, which has spread across the globe, has not infected anyone in the Grady community. However, it has indirectly impacted their lives.

Bram Mansbach

Sports bring people together. They can get tens of thousands of strangers under the same roof united by one commonality. Until a few days ago, that idea was magical; now, it’s hazardous. With the rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), sports have gone from an image of unification to the sight of deserted arenas. It’s enough to give me the chills. Stadiums that were meant to seat thousands of people have become quiet as games are played with no spectators.

When the coronavirus was first brought into the same conversation as sports, it immediately appeared problematic. Sports cannot co-exist with health hazards, and up to now, they were never in conversation. My first thoughts were that the show must go on, and players will keep playing. I couldn’t imagine that the United States’ most beloved source of entertainment could be affected. 

The first to go were college league games; the annual NCAA  March Madness tournament was barring fans, and then on March 11, the NBA suspended its season indefinitely when All-star and 2019 Defensive Player of the year Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. It seems like something out of a movie, I can hardly believe it. To the fans, these athletes are our idols and seem invincible. It all became so real when reality hits and the people we’re putting on towering pedestals are getting sick. 

In Italy, Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has tested positive, and now our very own Atlanta United’s MLS season is suspended. It’s one domino crashing on top of another as other professional sports leagues have followed. It’s hard not to panic when your sports idols seem to be taking more precautions than you.

When I first heard about cancellations and delays, my first reaction was frustration, but as more and more leagues are dropping out of play, it’s become primarily fear. Sports are so weaved into society that without them we lose an important sense of normalcy. With the exception of Kobe Bryant’s recent passing, the last time an NBA game was postponed was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Now with coronavirus spreading at a faster rate than previously unimaginable, it’s becoming more and more apparent that during this pandemic there is no longer room for sports.

The conversation is moving in a direction that fans may not want to hear, but there is no way around it anymore. We can’t have any more games where we put our athletes at risk of spreading a virus for the sake of our own entertainment and passion for the game. Sports are meant to bring people together, but right now, they will surely take an unfortunate pause. With this health crisis now seemingly unavoidable, fans must accept relegating sports down to a lower rung in their daily lives. The sports world is about to go through a dark and turbulent few months, and at the end of the day, our health, and the health of the players, must remain priority number one.

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