To say the past five plus months have been abnormal would be an understatement. COVID-19’s devastating global outbreak has thrown nearly every single routine or daily norm out the window.
During some of America’s worst times, sports have been there to help restore some sense of normalcy. In this country, where we celebrate how athletic competition can reveal the human spirit, it takes a lot to get people to cancel a sporting event. Mother Nature, war, and terrorism are some of the most notorious villains to attack sports over the years. And in some circumstances, they’ve won.
The Olympic games occur every two years, alternating summer and winter sports. Some athletes prepare for their entire lives to represent their countries in this international sporting event promoting unity and competition. The Olympics have been canceled three times, and paused only once over the past 124 years. All three cancelations related to World Wars I and II, respectively.
One of my favorite sports is basketball. The NBA has had to suspend competition several times because of national tragedies, player strikes, and in very few instances, weather. But a full season, or even just NBA Finals, has never been cancelled outright. Don’t even get me started on the NCAA March Madness. It is the most lucrative sports tournament in America and has never been canceled since its inception in 1939. Never once! But for the first time in 81 years, March Madness became March Sadness, as there were no brackets, no upsets, and no Cinderella stories.
Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, has taken place in London for the past 143 years and has only been canceled once during World War II. According to ESPN, 2020 marks the first time the tournament has been canceled during a time of peace.
From what I could find via my limited Google searches, the only other high-profile sports cancelation because of a disease outbreak was the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals, when a flu epidemic meant a champion was never crowned.
It is undeniable that we are currently experiencing something historic. Sports cancelations of this magnitude have never—let me repeat—never been seen before. We can’t control them; the best we can do is figure out how to adapt. As I write this Editor’s Note, it is still unknown if the 21st Annual Salt Bowl game will play in its usual fashion. Who knows; it might be played with no fans, or canceled altogether.
Sporting events may get canceled, but we can still exemplify our human courage, community strength and unity during this uncertain time by supporting our local schools, programs, students, and athletes. Maybe it’s especially in times like these that we have the opportunity to truly show that nothing can cancel our spirit. Your town. Your life. Your magazine.