The coronavirus took the world by storm just a few short weeks ago. While health concerns remain at the top of the list for importance, many leisure and pastimes have also been cancelled, among the top of this list is sports. The NBA was the first major sports league to suspend their regular season play doing so on March 12. Since then every major sports league has suspended competitions including the NHL, MLB, UFC and many more.
While it is devastating for fans and players of professional sports leagues to not be able to play or support their favorite teams, the fact of the matter is that these players are making money to play the game, many of them have many seasons ahead of them and could use the time off to get their minds and bodies right. These luxuries aren’t quite the same for college and high school seniors who are missing their final seasons that they have worked so hard for.
Most high schools on or around March 13, started cancelling a week or two of sports. This break was then extended to early April, and then quickly pushed back even further to early May, and then ultimately cancelled. As for colleges, most announced early the following week that they would have online classes for the remainder of the semester. This led to the cancellation of all winter sports playoffs as well as the entire spring sports season. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for spring sports seniors who missed their final seasons.
The cancellation of the postseason of winter sports affects both high school and college seniors the greatest, as their chances at winning a championship are completely washed away. Although many understand the necessary precautions that need to be taken for public health, the hours upon hours of hardwork and dedication required to be a successful student athlete and dream to win a championship is stripped of these senior athletes.
University of Oregon Women’s basketball senior, Sabrina Ionescu, is deeply affected by the cancellation of the March Madness basketball tournament. “[It was] heartbreaking, to be completely honest,” Ionescu said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “Especially playing in that last game we were all excited and didn’t think it’d be our last game as a Duck.”
Ionescu, the first NCAA Division I basketball player, male or female, to ever reach 2,000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 1000 assists brought Oregon to a #1 seed in the tournament, and were favorites to win the title. “I don’t think I’ll really be able to get over it for a long time,” Ionescu said.
The cancellation of March Madness will not only affect the financial status of the colleges participating and the channels who would have been broadcasting, but also the players. Every year in both the mens and womens tournament there is an individual who has a great tournament and often finds themself getting drafted just a few months later, this year everyone is losing out on the chance to get their name out there.
While it is apparent the struggle being faced by spring sports seniors who are missing out on their final seasons, their decisions will actually affect incoming freshmen. If a senior decides to play a fifth year and have a chance to play in their final season, then they will be maintaining a roster spot that recruiters were planning on being open before this pandemic. That means that many athletes who were hoping to get an opportunity to play now may find themselves stuck behind a 5th year. This unfortunate scenario always works in the opposite manner. There will also be plenty of fifth years who lose out on playing big minutes their senior season because of freshmen and transfers who are taking their spot. Looks like the NCAA Spring 2021 season is gonna be a tough one for coaches.
Health concerns of everyone obviously remain at the top of the list of importance, even with all of the complications that will arise once sports return, it will be some of the most intense and hardfought games of recent times, and it will be truly beautiful to watch.