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Sports world beginning to feel COVID-19 effects

The seats were empty at Orlando's Amway Center on Thursday, just hours after the NBA suspended the season due to the coronavirus. Embry-Riddle will face a similar setting this weekend. [Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel]

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread like wildfire in the last few weeks as officials have officially declared it a “pandemic.” Limiting travel, washing hands, and being mindful when experiencing symptoms has been a concern across the globe – and the sports world is beginning to feel the effects.

The Grand Rapids Community College spring sports teams, consisting of softball, baseball, and golf, have not had their seasons affected at the moment. GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn stated games will continue to be played as scheduled, although the virus is still the top priority at this time. 

“We are looking at this situation in every possible scenario and will be proactive for fans, family, and player’s health and safety,” he said. “We will take this day by day and be aware of what other colleges decide on. We will likely limit attendance for each game if they do proceed to be played.”

Major league sports have taken huge precautions as the confirmed number of cases rises. The leagues first announced on March 9 that “multimedia members would no longer have access to locker rooms” – with speculation of fans not being able to attend games. This was until the news of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus on March 11 caused the NBA to suspend all basketball operations until further notice. Other leagues across the nation are following suit, as the MLB and the NHL announced March 12 that operations would be suspended as well. 

Gobert is reported to have come in contact with at least 34 different players in the last two weeks during games – although he states that he is feeling “strong and stable.” Within 15 hours of the first reports on Gobert, a second report stated that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has tested positive for the virus. 

Soccer across the globe has taken precautions, as Major League Soccer (MLS) has suspended the season for 30 days and European and Spanish leagues suspending seasons indefinitely as of March 12. Juventus F.C. (Italy) of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League announced March 11 center-back Daniele Rugani has tested positive for the virus. Rugani mentioned that he is feeling “fine” and is the first known player to have the coronavirus, even with efforts from Italy to prevent spreading such as quarantining the population inside the country.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has canceled almost all regional tournaments as of March 12, including Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, and ACC. Ivy League basketball tournaments and spring sports were also canceled earlier this week. These cancellations are coming a day after President Mark Emmert released a statement on March 11 that stated, “I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.” March Madness is one of the NCAA’s most profitable tournaments – although with multiple teams pulling out of tournaments, it seems the tournament will be canceled entirely. 

Updates on GRCC spring sports can be located here, with major league sports updates here. If you would like to research more on the coronavirus, information can be located on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.


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