In a surreal yet equally predictable moment last night, the NBA’s 2019-2020 suddenly came to an abrupt halt. With Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert being tested positive for COVID-19, the league suspended the Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma Thunder, literally seconds before it was set to tip off.
While the other games already set to take place last night remained on deck as schedule, the league subsequently announced that all games going forward would be suspended indefinitely as the country only now begins to come to grips with the scale of this coronavirus.
The NHL is expected to follow suit and suspend the remainder of its season. This may even happen by the time you’re reading this. While the MLB is still in spring training, don’t be surprised if we see changes, and even a suspension of play, from them as well.
What does this mean for the NFL? As of this writing, the league has not taken any steps to change its plans. Everything remains on schedule during the offseason, but that could change rapidly, and many are already calling for them to be more proactive about it.
The most significant event on the horizon is the 2020 NFL Draft, set to be held in Las Vegas in late April, five or six weeks away. This is an event that the league has been trying to expand on the ground for years, opening it to venues around the country.
The reality, however, is that its primary drive is its broadcast, and that won’t change significantly whether or not a large crowd is in attendance to see it live. As of now, the league “will continue to monitor developments and share guidance as the situation warrants and as our experts recommend”.
That’s not dissimilar to what the NBA said soon before making last night’s decision. Perhaps the realization of what the impact of one infected player could have will help the reality to set in. everyone from both the Jazz and the Thunder were quarantined last night and subjected to testing to see if they have the virus. Every team the Jazz have played yesterday has been advised to self-quarantine and get tested themselves.
One single player in any major sport could take down dozens of others, in theory, and it’s quite obvious that we still don’t know how soon we can detect the virus. If somebody is playing with it and we don’t know about it, then we don’t even know how many people are being exposed.
Teams are already altering their plans this offseason, both in the NFL and at the college level. Michigan is not allowing coaches to travel on recruiting trips, and they are not hosting any prospects. Don’t be surprised to see some Pro Days canceled. To be blunt, we really don’t know how extensive the virus and its affect on our society will be, and because we don’t, an abundance of caution is in order.