With everything that is going on, this week’s column topic was quite obvious.
Not to create panic or fear, but to have a conversation about what is going on, because this directly affects everyone.
The response to the COVID-19 virus is something like I have never seen and may never see again, and at this point, no one knows when it will end.
Earlier this week, I received information that a concert in early April in Oklahoma City I had eagerly been anticipating since I first heard it was happening, along with the rest of the tour, had been postponed due to the coronavirus.
This was the first I had heard anything being canceled that I can recall.
I know there was concern for the virus, but that was the first I had heard of any major event being canceled.
From there, it was a domino effect.
The NCAA and NBA announced it would be holding games without a crowd.
Shortly after, the NBA announced it would suspend its season after one of the league’s better defensive players and his teammate tested positive.
The NHL suspended its season, NCAA conference basketball tournaments were canceled, MLB delayed the start of its season, the NCAA announced its high-revenue NCAA Tournament was postponed.
It wasn’t like a trickle down effect. More like a downpour of us as sports fans were losing out on our entertainment.
More importantly, student-athletes were losing out on a chance to compete. Seniors were losing their eligibility.
After all these announcements were made, I hit the road to Hot Springs about mid-afternoon Thursday to cover the Quitman girls basketball state championship for another Paxton Media Group paper when it was announced that a decision would be made on whether to continue the state finals around 5 p.m. – an hour before the Quitman game was scheduled to start.
At that time, I had made it just outside of Conway when I decided that instead of driving the hour and a half to Hot Springs and hope they still have the game instead of canceling it and having to drive the hour and a half back home, only to waste three hours out of my day, I decided my time was better served heading home, reporting on any update the Arkansas Activities Association had and watching the game from my house if it were to continue as scheduled.
Not only did that decision have an impact on Thursday night’s plans, but it really had an impact on Saturday as well.
I was ready to go cover Salty Longing’s Conway boys basketball team against Little Rock Central.
But, the announcement came on the drive back home that the remaining two games were to continue as scheduled and the rest of the weekend was postponed.
Now, all of these decisions, even the weekend’s announcements to suspend collegiate competition and the AAA announcing spring sports would be postponed until March 30, directly affected me and our newspaper, along with many of these student-athletes, who are way more important than me.
I can’t confidently say what will happen with the sports section of any newspaper for the time being until sports resumes.
But, what I do know is that the NCAA has a conundrum on their hands now.
While I think, even if I selfishly didn’t want sports to be put on hold, the decision to postpone events is the right one no matter how difficult.
Like I said earlier, we don’t know when all of this will end, but when it resumes what will happen to the eligibility of these student-athletes at the collegiate level.
Unfortunately, at least for the time being, there doesn’t seem to be an answer on whether or not the high school basketball finals will be played at a later date.
Which could spell the end of the high school basketball careers of several seniors before they had a chance to play in a game they worked extremely hard to get to.
At the collegiate level, I read that the NCAA is planning to extend eligibility to spring sports athletes since competition has been suspended.
However, that brings up several questions.
How will the eligibility of juniors, sophomores and freshmen be treated?
What about incoming freshmen for next year?
What about scholarships that are already limited and the funding that comes with those scholarships?
There is a lot to work out and the questions may not end there, and we may not have answers to those for a little bit.
I’m just glad to not be in the shoes of those making those decisions.