By: Joe Langley
It has been 26 days since Americans have been able to watch a live professional sporting event. COVID-19 has left the entire country and the globe in utter shock. Our country is in dire need of an outlet– a distraction–for our minds to focus on as we all power through this pandemic together. The absence of professional sports is being felt by American society, waiting anxiously for its return.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) have postponed their seasons. Major League Baseball (MLB) has postponed the start of the season. The Masters have been canceled. The 2020 Olympics have been postponed. The Boston Marathon has been postponed until October. The list goes on.
Students at UMW have felt this drought themselves. They already haven’t been able to watch their own school sports teams play, as they were all canceled due to the NCAA’s decision to cancel all spring sports.
Zane Burke, a junior communications major, couldn’t believe how long it’s been since the sporting world has stopped. “It feels like it’s been forever,” Burke said. “It feels like it’s been years without sports. They’re so important to keeping people happy and entertained.”
Burke hopes that professional sports will start up again soon, but doesn’t feel optimistic of their return, awaiting permission from the CDC. An NBA fan himself, Burke believes that if professional basketball will return, in addition to professional hockey, they will most likely go straight to the playoffs.
Burke is also a passionate baseball fan. He hopes he’ll be able to watch his favorite team, the Washington Nationals, lift their World Series Championship banner. However, he emphasized that nothing can occur until the CDC gives them permission. “I hope sports start back up by July,” Burke said. “My main concern is that public health improves, and we get this whole pandemic behind us. Until then can we concentrate on getting professional sports back in session.”
Like Burke, senior Matthew Whoriskey of the UMW swim team misses professional sports. “Professional sports aren’t just an outlet,” Whoriskey said. “Sports bring people together. I was extremely disappointed when I heard of their cancellation. However public health is a bigger concern.”
Whoriskey is not optimistic that professional sports will be back in session anytime soon. He strongly believes that neither the NBA or the NHL will be able to continue their seasons. “If these leagues do get the opportunity to start playing games again, we have to be prepared to witness a much shorter season.”
Senior communication major and golf team member Andrew Halmrast was heartbroken when he heard of the numerous cancellations of professional sports. “I wish there was something that could be done,” Halmrast said. “At this point, however, we just have to wait. If they can find a sanitary way to play, then yes they will come back. I don’t think they are going to play if fans can’t attend the games, however.”
Halmrast said he was hurt most by the cancellation of the Masters, the yearly professional golf tournament which is equated as the Super Bowl of golf. Halmrast stressed that the absence of professional sports has hit hard, mostly because his last season of playing golf at UMW was cut short due to the NCAA’s decision to cancel spring sports.
The only positive he can draw out of that situation is that he was awarded an extra year of eligibility, as were all other spring sport athletes. “I’m not optimistic,” Halmrast said about the return of professional sports. “If there was a way to bring them back sooner, I hope it actually works out. This country needs a distraction from COVID-19, even if it only distracts them for the duration of the game.”
Barring any new information from the CDC, it’s looking like American professional sports will not start back up until mid-July. For now, the least society can do is wash their hands, follow social distancing regulations and hope for the best.