The Day the Sports World Shut Down

The Day the Sports World Shut Down

John FarrellBy John FarrellJanuary 9, 20238 Minutes

If you’re anything like me, you love sports. I played sports throughout my childhood and into my college years via intramurals. I played baseball, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I also did karate, swimming, and one very misguided year on my junior high track team.

I was a fan of all these activities (with the exception being track and field), and my fandom often carried over into other parts of my life. And my fandom in relation to the teams I root for is eclectic to say the least.

Although I was born and raised in North Carolina, I’ve been a Los Angeles Dodgers fan for as long as I can remember. I’m a Washington Capitals fan when it comes to the NHL and I pull for the Seattle Sounders in the MLS. However, my hometown Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets are my favorites when it comes to the NFL and NBA.

On the collegiate side of my fandom, my heart beats Mountaineer pride for my alma mater – Appalachian State University. Although I’m a huge fan of my school’s football team, my primary college basketball rooting interests lie about three hours east on the campus of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. The sports world has also played a big role in my life professionally. I worked for NASCAR for seven years and in the NASCAR industry for a total of ten years.

With this much rooting interest in sports, you could probably imagine my surprise on Thursday, March 12, when the sports world as I had known it came to a grinding halt amid COVID-19 (coronavirus) concerns, which as of this writing has infected more than 195,000 people and killed over 7,800 people worldwide according to an interactive dashboard developed by scientists at Johns Hopkins University. Editor’s Note: As of August 19, 2020, this number has soared to more than 22 million cases worldwide and 781, 575 deaths, with the U.S. accounting for 5.4 million and 171,833 of those, respectively.

It started as a trickle a day or two prior as college basketball conferences around the country decided to hold their tournaments without fans. As of Wednesday, the NCAA basketball championship tournament was still on, but with only players, essential personnel, and some family members in attendance. Then the NBA followed suit, announcing that on Thursday night they would start holding games in empty arenas; however, that never came to fruition.

On Wednesday night, shortly before the match-up between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Jazz received word that center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus. The game was postponed before it started and the NBA regular season came to an untimely end.

Then Thursday, March 12, 2020, happened … one of the craziest days in sports history that I can remember.

College basketball conferences started canceling their tournaments. In the Big East, the game between the Creighton Bluejays and the St. John’s Red Storm at Madison Square Garden in New York City was stopped at halftime. The game wasn’t just canceled, the entire tournament was called off. Conference after conference followed suit until the only basketball tournament left on the calendar was the NCAA tournament.

And then it wasn’t.

Thursday afternoon the NCAA decided to remove both the men’s and women’s Division I national basketball tournaments from the calendar. Unfortunately for collegiate athletes, basketball wasn’t the only victim. Other collegiate sports affected were baseball, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, tennis, and track. Several big-time colleges, such as Notre Dame and Ohio State, have since canceled their spring football games.

Joining the NBA and NCAA in their decisions to cancel or postpone games and seasons were the MLB, NHL, and MLS. Major League Baseball called off the rest of Spring Training and postponed the start of the season by at least two weeks while the NHL and MLS both paused their seasons. Several tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule will be cut or postponed, including the Masters. NASCAR postponed their races in Atlanta and Miami with more postponements likely to come. Then on Monday, March 16, the NFL decided to cancel the 2020 draft event scheduled for April 23-25.

According to, other less-mainstream sports are also feeling the effects of the coronavirus and have either canceled or postponed events around the world: archery, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, judo/taekwondo, motorcycling, rowing, rugby, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, wrestling, and others.

During this time of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to turn to God and know that no matter what you’re going through He won’t desert you. In Psalms 23:4, King David reminds us that God will always be with us even in our darkest times:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

As we approach each new day during this pandemic, we must remember not to panic and to place our trust in the Lord. If we are able to place our fear in God’s hands through daily prayer, then and only then can we experience true peace:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, NLT)

At the end of the day, we must keep in mind what’s most important to us. Although I’m a sports fan and love watching athletes at all levels compete, I realize that now is the time to put down our bats and hang up our cleats to unite as one global community in the fight against coronavirus.

When we’ve finally defeated this deadly disease, I look forward to seeing my LA Dodgers hit the baseball diamond and the App State Mountaineers start preparing for the upcoming season.

In the meantime, I’ll be praying. You should join me.

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