I’m sorry if you thought otherwise, but if it didn’t occur to you that the coronavirus was going to be the top story heading into today, then that’s kind of on you. Large portions of the world are in lockdown or headed in that direction, and at this point, major competitive sports in North America are coming to a standstill, with even the CFL taking heed of the pandemic spread.
What comes next? That’s just the point. We don’t know. That’s why the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, NCAA, XFL, and marathons around the country have suspended all or nearly all activities indefinitely. The NFL has the luxury of being in an offseason period right now, but even they are not unaffected.
As of the time of this writing, they have already cancelled their Annual Meeting for the end of March, and are talking about possibly delaying free agency, and discussing contingencies for the 2020 NFL Draft, which is over a month away.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, he spoke to some team officials and others who expressed concern about what is to come, wondering if OTAs and offseason workouts may ultimately be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. OTAs take place from the middle of May typically through early June. These events, for the players, could also have ramifications on workout bonuses.
Some NFL coaches and team officials I talk to are concerned about OTAs/offseason workouts being compromised by Coronavirus, which on the player side could affect workout bonuses. The ripple effects will continue the longer this persists.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 12, 2020
Of course, it’s too early to know what is going to happen. The NBA said that while it will be suspended for at least 30 days, it has every hope and intention of resuming play this season. The MLB has suspended spring training and delayed the start of the regular season by two weeks, and will reassess at a later date.
A lot can happen between now and then, both positively and negatively, and so much of it depends upon how we, both as individuals and collectively, respond to this. We all want to get things done, and some of that requires going out of the house—for most people that includes their job, their livelihood—but whenever we do this, we not only expose ourselves, but everyone around us, and everyone in our lives.
This is of greatest concern for those of us who have elderly relatives and those who are compromised. While those of relative youth and good health have had very positive results in terms of recovery, the elderly and compromised have a much more troubling mortality rate should they become ill. As health officials have warned, “don’t visit your grandmother”. At least for now, she may well be better off without you.
We saw from Rudy Gobert how taking this lightly can have immediate consequences. His exposure to the virus has already been confirmed to have infected one of his teammates, and it’s possible that we will find his irresponsible behavior prior to learning that he was infected led to an even wider spread of the virus.
Social distancing is of paramount importance right now in terms of flattening the curve of new contractions. If the curve doesn’t flatten, dramatically, within the next month or so, it’s hard to see OTAs and things like that not being at serious risk.