By Mathias Altman-Kurosaki
Spring is normally an exciting time in the sports world. March Madness sets the tone for the beginning of the MLB and NCAA baseball season, while anticipation for the Masters Tournament builds up into the NBA Playoffs. Under normal circumstances, spring athletes at the College would be finishing up their seasons — and for many, for the last time.
On March 11, everything seemed to change — Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA immediately suspended their season. The NHL and MLB followed suit shortly after, as well as the NCAA, cancelling March Madness and the College World Series.
Even though Rob Murray, a sophomore marketing major, has always considered himself a huge baseball fan, he wasn’t too phased by the season’s cancellation at first. But as social isolation dragged on and he found himself stuck at home flipping through channels, the lack of entertainment began to sink in.
“I didn’t think it was going to affect me, but as time has gone on, I miss it more than anything right now,” Murray said. “I thought that I’d be able to distract myself by doing schoolwork and other things, but since we can’t hang out with friends or go out, I have all the time in the world, but there’s no sports to watch to make up for it.”
Matt Mancuso, a sophomore interdisciplinary business major who is a member of the College’s Club Ultimate Frisbee Team, was especially heartbroken by the cancellation of college sports.
“My season was cancelled, and that was immensely disappointing,” Mancuso said. “We felt like we had a strong team to compete and make a run at Sectionals. Additionally, we had a strong senior class, so I feel terrible for them.”
Nikola Kilibarda is a sophomore computer science major and a member of the College’s tennis team. Only six games into the season, the team’s biggest matches of the year were on the horizon when coronavirus shut everything down.
“We were supposed to have dual matches against our rivals, NYU and Stevens, and the shutdown occurred the day before the matches,” Kilibarda said. “It’s a shame we didn’t get to play them because the atmosphere would have been incredible.”
Peter Nielsen, a senior mathematics major, is a member of the College’s baseball team. Nielsen and his teammates were well on their way to a tournament in Florida when they got word that the event was cancelled.
“I was in shock and heartbroken when I heard the news,” Nielsen said. “We had stopped in Georgia when we heard the news that our tournament was cancelled, which meant we had to turn around and head back home. Then to hear that the season was cancelled as well was very heartbreaking, not just to me, but for the rest of my teammates and coaches.”
As for college sports, many find solace in that even though the NCAA spring season was cancelled, the association announced that it would be granting spring athletes an extra year of eligibility to compete.
“I thought it was a great move for the NCAA to grant an extra year of eligibility,” Nielsen said. “Giving players an opportunity to go back and play another season shows the NCAA knows the situation at hand, that this year could have been most players’ last season playing the sport they loved most and have been playing their whole life.”
Despite the halted seasons, leagues have been doing their best to keep fans entertained. All of the four major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) have been re-broadcasting some of their classic games on television and on various streaming platforms. Additionally, the MLB launched a tournament around the video game “MLB The Show: 20,” involving one player from all 30 teams.
As leagues work to keep the public informed and the world awaits the return of sports, athletes and fans alike have grieved the loss of what they once took for granted.
“I think (the return of sports) will ease some of my anxiety and make me realize that things are coming back to normal,” Murray said.