Should sporting events be cancelled due to COVID-19?


Image Courtesy of Los Angeles Times/Ciro Fusco

Pierce Mullholland, Staff Writer

COVID-19, the specific strain of “Coronavirus,” as it is better known, has spread all over the globe with 118,583 reported cases according to the latest reports coming from Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, the New York Times reported as many as 830 cases as of Tuesday, March 10. This epidemic has prompted public health officials to create policies to combat the spread of the virus. One of the steps being taken to stem the tide of infections is to cancel public sporting events.

For instance, “Serie A,” the top Italian soccer league, has cancelled all matches through April 3, and will possibly end the season prematurely. This all comes as a result of Italy facing one of the worst Coronavirus outbreaks outside of China. Thankfully, things are not as bad here in the States — yet. That being said, it is important that we all take precautions to avoid the virus and stay healthy. You know, wash your hands and what not.

American sports leagues are preparing contingency plans to play games without any crowd in attendance. Specifically, The National Basketball Association (NBA), which has already limited media access to players, has plans to play games without any fans. This would be done to keep not only the players safe, but the general public as well. Large public events such as basketball games are breeding grounds for germs and diseases due to the close contact between spectators and the shear amount of people in attendance. Although playing games in empty arenas may be the sensible choice, it is not entirely popular among some fans and players.

Lebron James of the Lakers initially said he would not play if the NBA held games without fans, although he has since retracted that statement. Other players have expressed skepticism in the idea citing a potential lack of energy that comes from the crowd noise. These players all seem to echo the main idea that it would be very unusual and weird for the players to play in silence. With that being said, protocols for how to proceed with so called, “essential only” crews at sporting events must be created sooner rather than later. Opening day for baseball is just around the corner, and with that even more Americans will potentially be heading to games in packed stadiums. On top of that, the Coronavirus will continue to spread and become an increasingly threatening disease. It is due to these factors that closing off sporting events to the public is the most sensible option going forward to protect the health of both players and spectators.

This would be a compromise that allows the continued competition we all love to watch, and root for, while also helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Finally, and this can not be stressed enough, please cover your mouth, wash your hands, and stay healthy.