Almost every article you see or hear on the news these days is about the coronavirus, and that includes the sports pages.
Games and tournaments and entire seasons are being canceled and many games that will be held are barring spectators. In Delaware, the biggest change has been that the high school basketball tournament semifinals and finals have been canceled following the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency, which begins tomorrow.
Earlier this afternoon DIAA arranged to postpone the semifinals to tomorrow with the finals on Saturday. But now all games, including the Unified championship will not take place. Each Unified finalist will be named a co-champion, and the four remaining teams in the boys and girls competition will receive a Final Four trophy, but there will not be a 2020 state champion.
For those who already bought tickets through a school, contact the school for a refund. If purchased online from the University of Delaware by credit card, a refund will be issued within 3 to 5 business days.
Those changes, of course, are minor things compared to the impact the coronavirus has had around the world, as entire countries are canceling major events and even closing their borders.
Many are calling all of this an overreaction, especially compared to the number of serious illnesses and even deaths that the common flu causes every year, and they may be right. At the same time, the simple reason for all of this is a tried and true saying: It’s better to be safe than to be sorry.
That’s why it’s hard to argue about cancellations and the like, whether it’s a big political rally, a big rock concert, a big basketball game, or even the rest of the NBA season. The odds are high that nobody would be infected with the disease at any of these events, but even the slimmest odds must be respected.
The only incident we disagree with is the decision by the Ivy League to cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The Ivy League could have simply done what so many others have done and just played the games in an empty gym. It wouldn’t be as much fun, but those kids have played in empty gyms – not to mention playgrounds and even driveways – their entire lives.
Whether we like it or not, it’s just a fact that we can’t stop all human interaction. That’s part of what makes us human, the day-to-day contact we have with other people. Nobody is going to stay inside their houses all day and all night. We have to be cautious, of course, but we can’t hide and hope it all goes away. Life goes on, through war, famine and natural disasters – it changes, but it goes on.
For the high school kids playing in the semifinals and finals of this year’s basketball tournament, this is a huge disappointment. Most of the players in these games won’t play in college, or at least a big-time college, and this is their one and only chance to play with entire school communities cheering them on. And that’s a shame.
Still, years from now, the winners will still be able to brag about being state champions, they will still share a special bond with their teammates, they will still have those once-in-a-lifetime memories, and it won’t matter where they played or who was there to watch it.
Many years ago, a big high school basketball game changed its schedule because of violence at an earlier game between the two schools. That next game was moved from a nighttime tipoff to a daytime one and there were no spectators allowed, not even parents, which upset a lot of people. But that, too, was a good thing. It certainly would have been more fun if that game had been played in front of a big and emotional crowd, but safety came first – just like it does now.
So, it’s understandable if games – and, remember, we’re talking about games – are canceled or played in empty arenas. It’s not the end of the world and hopefully, the coronavirus won’t be, either.