COVID-19’s impact on pro sports


Photo by Ben Rosen

People gather to watch the 2019 Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium.

March 11, 2020. That date will forever be remembered by sports fans. That is the night in which we learned one person can bring down an entire sports league. Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus that night. The NBA then announced that it was suspending their season and others then followed. NASCAR and IndyCar were the last to announce the suspensions of their seasons. WWE, however, is still going on with all events taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.


The NBA was the first to announce the suspension of their season. Later it was revealed that Jazz Guard Donovan Mitchell had tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the second NBA player to test positive. More players followed, including Detroit Pistons Forward Christian Wood, Brooklyn Nets Forward Kevin Durant and Boston Celtics Guard Marcus Smart.

The NBA season may not resume at all or it could resume around June or July with the playoffs being completed in August, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gobert’s positive test started a chain of events that led to essentially no live sporting events in the United States. The day prior to his positive test, Gobert touched every microphone he could on the podium before leaving his media availability session.


The NHL suspended their season on March 12, the day after Gobert’s positive test. They likely have a similar timeline as the NBA as their schedules are very similar. Part of the decision to suspend the season is because a large number of arenas are shared between NBA and NHL teams and a few unnamed players on the Ottawa Senators have tested positive for the coronavirus. They were in the same Staples Center locker room that the Nets had occupied during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 10. The Senators had a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 11.


On March 12 the NCAA made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments as well as all spring sports championships. All conferences had canceled their men’s basketball conference tournaments at the time the announcement was made. The women’s conference tournaments were mostly, if not already, completed. The Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden was the only one that tried to go on that day. The first half of the Creighton-St. John’s quarter-final was held before the cancellation of the remainder of the tournament was announced.

With no March Madness this year CBS had to find alternate programming. So in place of their weekend tournament slots, they are re-airing classic March Madness games. CBS Sports Network is also re-airing classic March Madness games.

The NCAA is likely going to give this year’s scheduled host sites priority when scheduling future tournament venues. Lucas Oil Stadium was originally scheduled to host the Midwest Region’s Sweet 16 & Elite Eight games.

With the cancellation of this year’s tournament, Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium are the next Final Four hosts.


The MLB season is indefinitely delayed and the remainder of spring training has been canceled. The exact start date of the season is unknown and a shortened schedule is likely. According to ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan, the season will most likely start early June as of right now.


The NFL is still holding free agency but other offseason events have been adjusted. The big NFL free agency news involved Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Indianapolis Colts signed Philip Rivers to replace Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

The NFL draft is expected to be held in a studio-like setting instead of the originally scheduled host city of Las Vegas.


NASCAR, IndyCar, the IMSA Weathertech Series and Formula One have all suspended their seasons. The Long Beach Grand Prix has been canceled and the Indy 500 will likely be postponed as well. The Formula One Monaco Grand Prix also has been canceled.

All series are using iRacing and other virtual reality simulations as replacements. NASCAR televised an iRacing race with drivers from NASCAR’s top series on FS1 on Sunday, and it became the most-watched ESports event at the time of writing. They are planning on holding an iRacing race at Texas Motor Speedway this week. All remaining races will be simulcast on FOX, FS1, and the FOX Sports App.


All major soccer events, including the MLS season, are currently delayed and being postponed. As a result, Liverpool has not clinched the English Premier League title yet. They only needed 3 points to clinch the title or have Manchester City drop 3 points. The UEFA Champions League is currently delayed. UEFA Euro 2020 has been moved to 2021.