Sports is big business – and bring big money to cities, which is why it takes something extremely drastic to, all of a sudden, siphon that money from economies of cities and entire states.
Enter the coronavirus, which has done an unprecedented deal of damage on society at large – including sports. That damage only increased when the NCAA initially announced that this year’s tournaments will be contested sans fans and with only “essential staff and limited family attendance.”
— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2020
While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States.
–Mark Emmert (statement)
NCAA source to me: “Things are moving quickly. Right now, it’s no fans. But we don’t know where this is headed. There have been discussions about canceling or postponing the NCAA Tournament, but we’re hoping it doesn’t get to that point.”
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 11, 2020
Then, the NCAA went a step further and decided that all spring sport tournaments, including the women’s and men’s basketball tournaments would be caneceled completely as a result of the outbreak.
The announcement is, yet, another indication of how simply how bad the coronavirus has become and the impact it has left on sports – including women’s basketball.
A portion of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament that took place from Feb. 6-9 was slated to take place in China, but was moved due to the outbreak. A number of WNBA players head to China during the WNBA’s offseason, but returned to the United States as a result of the outbreak. Among those that played in China were Stefanie Dolson, Cheyenne Parker, Liz Cambage and Aerial Powers.
When WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert took part in a panel discussion with the Los Angeles Sparks’ Chiney Ogwumike at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles, she was asked by Winsidr’s John Davis on how the league is staying abreast with the latest regarding the outbreak.
Wnba Commisioner Cathy Engelbert told me the league is monitoring coronavirus and thinking about special competitions if the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are canceled. Right now the league has a one month break for Olympics. #Tokyo2020 #coronavirus #CoronaVirusUpdates #WNBA #Winsidr pic.twitter.com/lAgjzUM3XG
— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) February 26, 2020
In my prior life, I did a lot of scenario planning so we’re already thinking about that. Some of my owners have already called to say, ‘What are we going to do because we need to keep the conversation going. We need to keep the focus going.’
–Cathy Engelbert (per Winsidr)
An advocacy group for college athletes suggested last month that the NCAA stage its men’s and women’s tournaments without fans present. Santa Clara County imposed a ban on large gatherings which affected not only Stanford, but also the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. The Ivy League canceled its conference tournaments due to coronavirus, which gave automatic tournament bids to Princeton (on the women’s side) and Yale (on the men’s ledger).
Cambage even told an Australian newspaper that she believed she contracted coronavirus while playing in China only to defeat the ailment.
It has also affected the status of other major events – including Golden State Warriors games at Chase Center, WWE Wrestlemania in Tampa and future Joe Biden presidential campaign rallies.
Another unintended consequence is how the news has affected the WBCA convention in New Orleans that runs concurrent to the Women’s Final Four. The 2020 class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, that includes Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings and Lauren Jackson, was to be introduced at the convention.
The WBCA announced that the convention is also canceled.
Due to the health and safety of our members, student-athletes, volunteers, staff and partners and with the data and information provided about COVID-19, the decision was made to cancel the #WBCA20 Convention.
— WBCA (@WBCA1981) March 11, 2020