The health and safety of the population is of the utmost importance right now.
The NBA led the way by fortifying this message by suspending the season on March 11, 2020. The NCAA, NHL, PGA, and MLB have followed suit. March 12, 2020 will forever remembered as ‘The Day the Sports World Stood Still’.
The decision to evaluate the threat that COVID-19 poses to the population at large is the correct decision; there is no need to risk the health and welfare of players, fans, reporters or even the mascots. The leagues have taken unprecedented caution to ensure that folks at sporting events do not become infected with the coronavirus.
The aftermath of these decisions, as we patiently wait to see what is next, has been surreal. Both Utah Jazz All-Stars have the virus? Spring Training is done? Disneyland is closed for a month? The Coronavirus Conference to discuss the coronavirus has been cancelled due to coronavirus?!
Let’s face it: A world without sports is eerie. Knowing that the Phoenix Suns may have played their final game of the season is bizarre. Yes, I can take a little solace in the fact that, if indeed their loss to Portland on Tuesday night was all she wrote, they ended with a .400 winning percentage. That’s their best in six seasons. But we are all left with an unfulfilled empty feeling.
There will be no more Suns games to look forward to at the end of a hard day’s work. What am I supposed to do when I’m at home? Talk to my family? Walk the dog twice around the block? Finally measure the back door for a screen?
While we all focus on our personal hygiene, well-being, and health (and apparently toilet paper, because everybody is hoarding toilet paper now), we are all wondering what stage of this pandemic we are currently experiencing. Is this the tip of the iceberg? Is this the Stairway to Heaven-ish crescendo? The unknown is what can be frightening, and we currently have no idea how serious the coronavirus is.
Editor’s note: We do know there have been a total of 1,215 total positive tests in the United States, in addition to 36 deaths, though the actual numbers are believed to be much higher. Efforts such as closing sporting events and schools are being made to “flatten the curve” via social distancing, which prevents people from contaminating one another.
For fans of the Phoenix Suns and the NBA (and sports in general), is it too soon to wonder when some sense of normalcy will return? Is it premature to ask, “when?”
Personally, I am still processing what is occurring. Like most, I am reading information about the virus and determining what my personal next steps will be. Like Schoolhouse Rock said, “knowledge is power,” and that power comes over situations such as these.
Sports, as it should be, is low on my list of priorities.
League and government officials are asking the same questions though, not because they are wondering when they can manage their fantasy basketball lineup again, but because they need to assess and execute contingency plans as appropriate. It is their responsibility to determine what the next steps are.
The City of Chicago has set a date to look forward to, although the date is a month and a half away:
Insert the Justin Timberlake “It’s Gonna Be May” memes all you want, that is quite some time for a world without sports. Spring, a time for rebirth and renewal, a time for the smell of the grass and sweat on the hardwood, will be empty. Don’t be surprised if the number of babies born in December or January sets some records.
Is May 1 a hard date for the resumption of sports? No. Commissioner Adam Silver warned Thursday night on TNT there is a possibility the season is canceled entirely. But it is a glimmer of hope. It reminds us that (fingers crossed) life will go on. To get to that date, hardships will occur.
The stone that is thrown into the water has many ripples. While most use sports as an outlet and for entertainment purposes, others rely on the games for their income. Local economies will struggle. Bars and restaurants around arenas will be affected as well as they will see a decline in pre-game and post-game patrons. Millions will be lost in revenue from the patrons watching March Madness at their favorite pub.
Mark Cuban stated this morning that he “already started the process of having a program in place” to help those who will have will miss out on earning hourly wages due to the postponement.
“I reached out ... to find out what it would cost to financially support people who aren’t going to be able to come to work.”— ESPN (@espn) March 12, 2020
–Mark Cuban on his plan for Mavericks employees during the NBA suspension pic.twitter.com/McOl1vHUqO
Kevin Love was the first player to assist the workers affected by the pandemic by loosening the strings on his coin purse, pledging $100,000 to help staff members who call Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse their place of work.
The Phoenix Suns, who had 17 games left in the 2019-2020 campaign, only had six more home games. Still, those 6 games will no longer need ticket scanners to welcome us to Talking Stick Resort Arena, no beer vendors to quench our thirst for some suds, no custodians to clean the stands following a rowdy Suns game. The sweat moppers will have no puddles to wipe off the floor following Dario Saric getting pounded without a whistle.
Will Robert Sarver follow Mark Cuban’s lead? Will he do what he can to thank the thankless who fortify the experience at Suns games? I hope so. Not to save face with the city, not to quiet the Greta Rogerses of the fanbase, but because it is the right thing to do. It is the human thing to do.
The surreality that we are all experiencing reminds us that the human experience is unique and special. It is special because we are all a part of it. The social fabric of humanity is being tested; we are being denied the ability to be amongst each other and have a shared experience. It is during times of hardship and of strife that the best parts of humanity make their presence known and felt. Kindness and compassion, understanding and empathy.
I am looking forward to seeing how we respond to this pandemic. I am excited to see the creative ways we conquer this adversity.
Sports bring us together. We’ll just have to wait awhile until we see each other again. Until then, maybe Esports might really take off, eh? I think I’ll be playing plenty of NBA2k20 while I wait for the real thing to resume. Or I’ll finally measure for that screen door.
Take care of yourself Suns fans. Take care of each other. Oh, and subscribe to the pod.