By Nathaniel Easington, Howard University News Service
Washington, DC– COVID-19, the Coronavirus, has successfully taken over the lives of almost every professional, student and child around the world. And athletes of every level also haven’t been spared from the unprecedented events, a group that has been greatly affected.
Since the postponement of the NBA season on March 12, the U.S has seen the greatest number of cases across the world with over 200,000 cases confirmed. Deaths in the U.S. have reached over 12,000, but the U.S. is still behind both Italy and Spain in fatalities worldwide.
High school and collegiate sporting events in the U.S. have been nixed entirely, with the NCAA announcing the cancellation of March Madness just two weeks ago on March 17. Professional sports seasons have been postponed until further notice, with some league offices suggesting the only way to finish the 2020 season is for games to be played without fans.
“Having a game without fans — what is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’?” Los Angeles Laker Lebron James said on the Road Trippin’ Podcast with former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye on March 26. “There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth,” James continued.
This came after NBA commissioner Adam Silver floated the possibility of the NBA finishing the regular season behind closed doors, almost a week after the NBA suspended its season indefinitely.
Possibly the biggest sporting event that has been affected by the virus and global health precautions is the Summer 2020 Olympic Games that was set to be held in Tokyo this July. The games have been moved back an entire year, now set to start towards the end of July in 2021.
“I was in the gym training at the time.. and I didn’t really know what to feel. I kind of sat there and I cried. But ultimately it was the right decision,” said Simone Biles, a four-time U.S. Olympic Gold medalist on the Today Show on April 1. (link to it)
Biles wasn’t the only seasoned Olympian to express both her sadness and understanding in the games being postponed a year. Many athletes took to social media to highlight their feelings about having to wait an extra year.
While some athletes are more okay than others with the postponement, others were a little more anxious as it was going to be their first Olympic Games.
Howard University senior Latroya Pina was set to represent Cape Verde in Tokyo this summer, competing in her first Olympic Games. Pina, along with her two siblings, had been selected to be a part of the Cape Verde swim team. The biology major excelled in the Breaststroke, Freestyle and Individual Medley last season for the Bison, culminating in being named to the 2018 MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team last season.
Although athletes are likely the most affected and disappointed by the postponements and cancellations in the sports world, the fans and media personnel also have had to deal with a complete change of plans within the last few weeks.
“When I found out I was kind of upset, but I totally and completely understood, with everything that is going on it made sense for the protection of the workers and athletes as well… I had a little bit of faith, but in all reality I knew it would get pushed back,” said East Dockery, a current Rhoden Fellow at The Undefeatedand sophomore at North Carolina A&T, who was also selected to be an sports media intern at the games this summer for NBC Sports.