As fears regarding coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) continue to ramp up, so do cancellations on the sports landscape — nationally, regionally and locally.
The unexpected cancellations began on March 10 when The Ivy League, a Division I collegiate athletic conference comprised of private schools in the Northeast, announced the cancellation of its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and it said it would limit the number of spectators that can attend spring sports — as a direct response to accelerated coronavirus cases across the country.
In short order, many other sports organizations — professional, collegiate, amateur, recreational and youth — followed suit by postponing or canceling events during ensuing days.
The NBA and the NHL League suspended their seasons indefinitely. The MLB canceled spring training games and pushed back the start of the 2020 regular season.
Even WWE’s WrestleMania 36 — scheduled for April 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa — has been moved to a “fanless” venue at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
Meanwhile, the NCAA on March 12 canceled Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments (more widely known as March Madness), as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships, in light of ever-evolving news regarding the public health threat of COVID-19.
In a similar move, the NJCAA (National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association) on March 16 canceled all upcoming basketball championships, as well as spring competition, effective immediately.
The NCAA and NJCAA decisions means that Saint Leo University (Division II NCAA) and Pasco-Hernando State College (Division II NJCAA) have canceled the remainder of the spring season, as well as all activities for all fall, winter and spring sports until further notice.
The Saint Leo athletic department, in a release, said: “The health, safety and welfare of all of our staff and student-athletes is paramount. Taking these precautions now will help keep our student-athletes healthy so they can successfully complete their academic coursework and resume competition in Fall 2020.”
Postponements and cancellations also have affected high school sports.
All athletics activities at Hillsborough and Pasco county public schools are canceled until at least April 15, as part of a statewide directive from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Academy at the Lakes has canceled all sporting events, including games and practices, through at least March 29. Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School also has canceled athletic practices, games and non-school functions until at least April 15.
The FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) also announced there have been no final decisions concerning state series or state championship events. Furthermore, spring sport rankings will not be released until further notice.
“As we receive information from state authorities and health departments, the FHSAA will continue to make decisions for each sport individually, moving forward,” the statewide athletics organization said, in a release.
Many local youth and adult sports leagues have postponed or canceled their spring seasons, too.
Pasco County Parks announced all events, activities, youth and adult sports leagues, field reservations and so on have been canceled until at least May 1.
County parks will continue to remain open for day-use only, however recreation complexes and community centers remain closed until further notice. That includes the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, Heritage Park Community Center, James Irvin Community Center, Odessa Community Center, among others.
Likewise, Hillsborough County recreation centers are closed and athletic activities have been canceled until at least April 13, but Hillsborough County parks are open.
Meantime, large sports leagues put on by local churches also have been postponed or shuttered.
Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz has canceled the entire spring season for youth baseball, youth softball and men’s softball. Pending developments with the coronavirus, the church plans to ramp up sports registration on July 1 for its fall youth soccer and adult coed soccer leagues.
Grace Family Church, which has campuses in Lutz and Land O’ Lakes, has postponed its basketball, kickball and softball leagues, until further notice.
Published March 25, 2020