Coronavirus Update

From a sports perspective, pretty much everything is shut down and will be for a while.

Jim Rome
March 16, 2020 - 9:16 am
Coronavirus

USA Today

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A lot has changed since I went off the air. A lot. Almost too much to recap. Schools closing, school districts closing, restaurants, bars, and gyms closing. A new reality is here and it’s not totally clear for how long.

Here’s where things stand from a sports perspective, pretty much everything is shut down and will be for a while. The CDC is recommending no gatherings of 50+ people in the United States for the next eight weeks. I repeat eight weeks.

So that means that we’re talking about the major professional sports leagues coming back in May? Ehhhh, not exactly. It’s not quite as simple as getting the all-clear, throwing the switch, and every league is back. Suspending seasons is a lot faster than restarting them.

With everything that we’ve learned over the weekend, all the leagues that were talking about a possible 30 day suspension, are probably kicking that can down the road a little further.

As Jon Heyman tweeted: “The hoped-for April 9 MLB start date was always seen as a best-case scenario, and with developments over the past few days, based on talks with several execs today any time before June would be viewed as welcome.”

And MLB isn’t alone.

According to Woj, the NBA is thinking about mid-to-late June as well. He tweeted: “CDC recommendation of no events of 50-plus people for next two months comes as a number of NBA owners and executives increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play -- with no fans. League's scouting for possible arena dates all the way thru August.”

When the league was officially suspended on Wednesday night, yes, it was only Wednesday night and already feels like a lifetime ago, but when the league was initially suspended, the thinking had been that there would be an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation in 30 days. A lot has changed since then and that 30 day window already seems to have gone out the window.

According to Woj, that mid to late June return is the best case scenario at this point. As one team president said: "Our world has changed since Wednesday's [board of governors] call. The reality isn't lost on anyone right now."

And as Woj reported, “teams have been directed to give the league office potential dates at smaller nearby game venues, including team practice facilities, that could spare the use of empty, cavernous arenas and possibly provide backdrops to unique television viewing lines.”

In other words, it is all up in the air. Including where games are played, how they are televised, and what the schedule for the rest of the season would look like. And it is a very fair question to wonder if there even will be a 2019-2020 season after all of this.

The NBA also announced the cancellation of the rest of the G-League season. And that’s just the NBA.

The expectation is that the Kentucky Derby will move from the first Saturday in May. Boxing will either have to get creative with its venues or, according to Chris Mannix, have to move the Canelo fight targeted for May 2nd.

The NFL has a new CBA, which I’ll get into a little later, but even the NFL will be impacted. No gatherings of 50 or more for the next eight weeks will most definitely impact the draft. There is no way that you can proceed with the draft in April in Las Vegas the way they would’ve liked. So you either have to go to a sweet Skype session or postpone the event entirely. And that seems likely because at this point, there isn’t really an end in sight. 

But one crew is still saying full-speed ahead for their event. And that crew is: The Olympics. Because as I always say, when the world is facing a global pandemic, what better idea than to get the entire world together in one location.

John Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president and head of the Australian Olympic Committee, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Olympics are still on for July.

Let me read an excerpt from the Associated Press article: “John Coates, who will have to go into government-mandated self-isolation when he returns to Australia this week from Olympic business in Europe, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: "It's all proceeding to start on the 24th of July."

The guy who is going into a government-mandated self-isolation is saying everything’s good. It’s all fine, according to John Coates.  You know.  From the guy, again, who has to go into a government-mandated self-isolation. 

It’s always tricky with the Olympics, because you’ve got different people from different committees giving their takes, but that take from the guy who’s about to go into a government mandated self-quarantine is a pretty curious, don’t you think.. Sure, July is a long way off from now. It’s a little more than four months. A lot can happen between now and then, but given that we are talking about a global pandemic and training for the athletes, as well as qualification for the Olympic teams is going to be impacted, maybe we just wait a moment or two before we declare the Olympics are still on.

This time last week, every major sport in the US was either playing games or preparing to play games. Now, less than a week later, it’s all been shut down. So maybe Mr. Coates should hold off on declarative statements for now.

But this is only sports. There are much bigger things than games not being played.

And this is the part where I want to talk to people who were still going out over the weekend, people who were saying they weren’t going to let the virus impact their St. Patrick’s Day plans, people who think they’re young and healthy and it won’t hurt them.

Again, it’s not about you. It’s about senior citizens, it’s about people with compromised immune systems, it’s about the hospitals, and making sure they don’t get overwhelmed. It’s about flattening the curve.

I’m sorry if that bums you out, but it’s not like you’re being asked to perform some incredible feat of strength. You’re being asked to stay home and watch Netflix. Stay home and sit on your couch.

Listen to the experts.

And if you won’t listen to the experts, listen to Arnold. Because he’s in with a thought or two as well. And for some reason, he’s shooting the video at his kitchen table with his donkey named Lulu and a mini-horse named Whiskey.

And if Arnold and a donkey and a mini-horse doesn’t convince you, maybe Coach O will.

This is real. Health experts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Coach O are telling you that it is. So act like it.

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