Sports are having to Adapt to Covid-19 on the Fly
The coronavirus, Covid-19, has brought the sports world to a halt in March of this year. March Madness, the men’s NCAA tournament was cancelled, the NBA and NHL paused their seasons, and Major League Baseball never got started until July.
The virus continues to affect everyday life in the U.S. and is still having an impact on the sports world.
The NFL was the one professional sports league that stuck to its guns and attempted to carry on as normal as possible. The whole virus situation arose during the offseason, which eliminated the annual OTAs and mini camps. The league did hold its annual draft as scheduled.
Teams reported to training camp but did not play any preseason games. The 2020 season was rolling along until a number of positive tests in Tennessee caused the first wave of league issues.
A Week 4 game with Pittsburgh had to be moved to Week 7. The move also affected the schedule of the Baltimore Ravens. The league has seen a handful of games postponed and even saw a rare Wednesday game this season.
So far, it appears as if the NFL will finish its season on time and play its postseason as scheduled.
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The coronavirus has had a greater impact on college football. The Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12 didn’t start playing right away. As the SEC and ACC and a few Group of 5 conferences began play in August, the others watched.
There have been cancellations and postponements each week throughout the season, but the Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12 eventually joined in and began their seasons.
The virus will definitely have an impact on the College Football Playoff and the eventual national champion.
Cincinnati, the highest ranked Group of 5 team, just had its game with Tulsa cancelled. The two teams had postponed the game earlier this season. Ironically, the two teams will meet on Dec. 19 for the American Athletic Conference championship.
BYU, which lost for the first time last week to surprising Coastal Carolina, saw its schedule virtually disappear before the season. The Cougars eventually filled the schedule and have enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent history.
The NBA finished its delayed season in October when the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title. The league finally held its annual draft in November and is less than a month away from beginning its next season already.
The 2020-21 season will start on Dec. 22. Teams will play 72 games instead of the normal 82. The league plans on finishing the regular season in May and the latest NBA Finals Game 7 would take place on July 22. The Lakers are currently favored at online sportsbooks to win the championship, followed by the Bucks, Clippers and Nets.
While the NBA played in the Orlando bubble last season, it is expected that teams will play in their home arenas this season. Whether or not fans are permitted will be up to state and local regulations.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the 2020 Stanley Cup on September 28, the latest finish in league history. Like the NBA, the NHL played games in a central location as Western Conference teams played in Edmonton and Eastern Conference teams played in Toronto.
With the season ending so late, the new 2021 NHL season will begin on January 1. Five international games were on the schedule for 2021 but will be rescheduled for the following season.
Every professional league and all college sports have COVID-19 protocols that they must follow. It’s the new normal. The NBA has built in to its new schedule the potential for rescheduling games that are postponed due to the virus.
College basketball has already seen a number of postponements and will likely see many more as the season progresses. There has been talk of playing the entire NCAA men’s tournament in one location (Indianapolis).
One thing is certain in relation to sports and the coronavirus. Expect the unexpected.