COVID-19 Impacts Professional Sports


One of the many activities that brings us together in our day to day lives is professional sports. Whether it’s The Arizona Coyotes or the Golden State Warriors, we all have a favorite team, and it’s something that starts conversation and debate among our communities. COVID-19 has each and every one of us feeling more separated than ever from our environments, and most importantly, each other because of the cancellations of professional sports like the NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS and changes to the NFL Draft. Sports fans are looking for different ways to entertain themselves simply because there are no new games to watch. Many leagues are providing easier ways to watch old games, and view old highlights through streaming services, and cable television. 

The MLB (Major League Baseball) has cancelled spring training and indefinitely delayed the start of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. They are considering contingency plans including potentially dividing teams into three leagues based on location and each would play their games in a corresponding city, which would limit travel for athletes and mitigate potential exposure to the virus. Because of Arizona’s extensive involvement in spring training, at least one of the three leagues would most likely play here in Phoenix for the remainder of the 2020 season. Although it is not certain, the MLB has reported that they may start their season in late June with games being initially played without fans in attendance, depending on the circumstances of the pandemic.   

Similarly, the NBA (National Basketball Association) suspended its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then, some of Gobert’s teammates and other athletes in the NBA have also tested positive. As the United States begins to open, the NBA has stated that they may reopen team practice facilities, however, there is still no word on when and whether or not the NBA will officially resume the 2019-2020 season.  

For fans stuck at home, the NBA has made their digital “league pass” free, where they replay games from the 2019 and 2020 seasons through services like cable and DirecTV. NBA fan, basketball player, and Paradise Honors Middle School student, Braedyn MacDonald shared his thoughts about the pause in the NBA season. 

“Well I was extremely upset about basketball being cancelled, I used to look forward to games everyday,” MacDonald said. “I’ve been spending my time playing NBA 2K20 on my Xbox with my friends, and watching numerous old games that air on TV. As of when games resume, I see the amount of viewers going down because people won’t want to be crowded in the stands. I think it will take months for viewer rates to get back up to normal.”

MacDonald hopes that the season will resume as soon as possible, and hopes to be able to go back to playing in his own games too. 

As of March 12, 2020 the NHL (National Hockey League) suspended its regular season which was scheduled to end on April 4, 2020 in response to their athletes safety due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The NHL is contemplating how and when to complete the 2019-2020 season, and considering a plan to delay the start of the 2020-2021 season. Likely not to start until December or January of 2020, the 2020-2021 season will come with extensive restrictions, including limiting or cutting off fans’ access to attending hockey games. Currently stuck at home, NHL fans have found enjoyable ways to get their hockey fix. One of Imagine Prep high school’s science teachers and hockey fan, Sara Camren, shared her thoughts on the cancellation of the regular season.

“I was sad because it seemed like the Coyotes actually had a chance to make the playoffs and I was super excited to watch playoff hockey in person,” Camren said. “I follow my favorite teams on social media and I’ve been watching throwback clips of games and celebrations, as well as video messages from players. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a delayed start to the new NHL season. There are so many possibilities of what watching hockey could look like when we finally return, but I do know that whenever we get hockey back, I cannot wait to be in my seat supporting the Coyotes, however that may look!”

The NHL has also provided unique ways for fans to keep themselves entertained and involved in hockey through social media and streaming services. One of the most notable, the NHL has been live streaming NHL 20’ video game matchups to fans, allowing them to vote on which team they think will win, and broadcasting the “three stars of the game” similar to what they would do after real life games. 

Although the NFL (National Football League) did get an end to their 2019-2020 season with the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54, the future for the 2020-2021 season is unclear. The NFL’s pre-season is still scheduled to start in August, but it could easily change based on the progress made in regards to the pandemic. The NFL, as many other sports organizations do, consider the safety of their athletes, coaches, and fans.  In late April, the NFL hosted the annual draft virtually with coaches making picks from their homes. 

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see a return of any professional sports just yet. While stuck at home, sports fans have found great ways to entertain themselves, and continue to hope for a return of their favorite sports. One thing is for sure, spectator sports may never be the same again.