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NBA, NHL, MLS & MLB Suspend Seasons; NCAA Tournament Officially Canceled – See How COVID-19 Has Halted Sports

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in News

Mar 12, 2020 · 6:55 AM PDT

Staples Center NBA game
The NBA announced it was placing its season on suspension on Wednesday due to the Coronavirus. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. Photo by: Amin Eshaiker (Wiki Commons).
  • The NBA announced on Wednesday night that it was suspending its regular season due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • The NHL, MLS & MLB have also announced on Thursday they are suspending and postponing their seasons for the time being & the NCAA Tournament has been canceled 
  • Listings of the latest coronvirus plans from major sports leagues is in the story that follows

The NBA has brought a halt to its season. The NHL is assessing, and will reveal its plans on Thursday.

Other major North American sports organizations are also taking coronavirus precautions. The NCAA announced Wednesday that while plans for March Madness would be going ahead, both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as hockey’s Frozen Four, will be playing all games without spectators.

Major League Baseball is looking into the possibility of relocating regular season games if necessary when play begins later this month.

The NFL hasn’t announced any plans to cancel or curtail next month’s NFL Draft. However, the league did say it is closely monitoring the ongoing developments with the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic.

Let’s look at the latest updates from all the major North American sports leagues.

NBA Suspends Season

  • His back-to-back NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards are an indication of how good Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is at the shutdown game. Wednesday, he shut down the entire league
  • Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, the first North American pro athlete to do so. Both the visiting Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder suddenly left the court just prior to game time. The game was called and it was revealed that Gobert had tested positive
  • The Jazz made the following announcement: “We are working closely with the CDC, Oklahoma and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how to best move forward as we gather more information.”
  • Later Wednesday evening saw the NBA announcing the suspension of all league play: “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • The league is advising all teams playing the Jazz in the 10 days prior to Wednesday to self quarantine. That includes the Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors
  • The league will still allow teams to practice during the shutdown
  • Previously, the NBA had limited locker room access to team personnel. On Monday, the Golden State Warriors announced they would play games with no fans in attendance
  • Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James had previously said that he wouldn’t participate in games without the presence of fans.

NHL Weighed Options; Paused Season Thursday

  • After mulling their options last night, the NHL announced Thursday that they are suspending the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus
  • The NHL released the following statement on Wednesday: “The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options. We expect to have a further update tomorrow.”
  • The NHL and NHLPA are expecting to meet Thursday to discuss what the next steps will be
  • To this point, no NHL player has tested positive for coronavirus
  • On Monday, the league banned all non-essential personnel from dressing rooms. All media interviews are being conducted in interview rooms with a six-foot barrier separating team personnel from reporters
  • The San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that going forward, there will be no fans in attendance at their home games

NFL Plans to Go Ahead With Draft

  • The NFL Draft is taking place April 23rd-25th in Las Vegas
  • At this juncture, the league intends to go ahead with the event
  • In a statement, the NFL said the following: “Our plans remain in place. The NFL continues to closely monitor coronavirus developments and has been in contact with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NFL-NFLPA’s medical experts at the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network (DICON). We will continue to monitor and share guidance as the situation warrants and as our experts recommend.”
  • The NFL has contingency plans in place. The league could simply opt to hold the draft out of the league offices in New York via video conferencing

It’s March Without the Madness

  • Thursday Afternoon led to cancellation of all remaining D1 conference tournaments, and the official announcement all NCAA winter and spring championships were cancelled, including the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Springing Forward

  • This week saw Ohio State and Michigan, two of the most prominent programs in NCAA football, both announcing they are calling off their spring football games
  • Cincinnati and Kent State also canceled spring games
  • Virginia, Baylor and Kent State postponed all team activities

MLB Opening Day Pushed Back at Least Two Weeks

  • ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan has reported that MLB is expected to suspend their operations on Thursday afternoon, and postpone Opening Day
  • As opening day nears, MLB is formulating alternative plans that might require implementation if the coronavirus spreads
  • In Seattle, where the virus is rampant, the Mariners are planning to switch early-season home games to road contests
  • Circumstances may be forcing the San Francisco Giants to move games to other sites. Gatherings of more than 1,00 people are banned in the city
  • If necessary, other games could be switching to locales where the virus is less prevalent
  • MLB might even opt to have some teams launch regular-season play from their spring training homes


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