2020 the year it was in sport
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
The Covid-19 Era
Toronto. – If I were a betting man, 2020 would have been a disaster for anyone that knows the world of sport. The year started as normal as it could have been with the 2019 World Series being won by the Houston Astros over the powerful L.A. Dodgers. Both the NHL and NBA started their seasons in customary manners with great play and focus.
In the NBA, the defending Champions Raptors were giving the league a lesson in persistence and teamwork. In the NHL, the customary teams were taking control of the conferences and the local Maple Leafs were sticking to their normal routine of chaos and rebounds inside and outside the locker room. In the soccer world, the Lionel Messi saga was starting to brew, and the Toronto FC rebounded to head into another final birth.
As the Christmas break came Toronto was already talking of a repeat in the NBA and the atmosphere was unreal. The Leafs were sitting in 7th spot in the conference and aiming towards a play off spot. The Blue Jays were trying to meld a loosing team that look very gloom and Toronto FC were trying to define their plan of attack for the upcoming season after failing to win their championship game in Seattle.
The new year came and news of the beginning of the start of the pandemic started to sound in the pacific rim with the cancellation of the Tennis Open in Tokyo. No one was thinking that it would arrive in North America and the sports scheduled continued to work its way through. By the end of January, the NBA was in full swing for another great finish to a monumental season with the Raptors closing in on the conference leaders Milwaukee Bucks. In the Western Conference, the dominant Lakers were leading over the Nuggets and the Clippers. Then the sports world came to a complete halt with the death of the legendary Coby Bryant and his daughter on a helicopter crash.
For the next month, the remembrance of the Mamba spirit took sports by storm and at The NBA All-Star game everything culminated with a great celebration of Coby’s legacy to the world. The NFL’s Superbowl was a great celebration of life with the Chief’s and Patrick Mahomes overpowering the 49ers comeback season 31-20. The seasons began to take notice again and by the end of February the Raptors were within an arms reach of Milwaukee and the west remained equally tight. In the NHL, the Bruins began to make waves overtaking the Lightning in the Eastern conference, while in the west the defending Stanley cup champions the St. Louis Blues were up to their old tricks. MLB Spring training was in a full throttle both in Florida and Arizona and looking forward to the beginning of the season.
In early March, news of the pandemic arrival to North America began to sound as two cases were detected in both Sacramento, California and Vancouver, Canada. The sports world continued operating until Rudy Gobert incident during a press conference in Utah.
On March 9, the NBA, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer jointly announced that teams from all four leagues would be required to limit locker room access to players, coaches, general managers, and basketball and public relations staff, with the notable exclusion of media; several teams from the NBA and NHL had already begun voluntarily limiting locker room access during the previous week. The NBA had told teams they should make plans for the possibility of playing games without fans and with only essential personnel in attendance.
On March 11, 2020, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the suspension of the 2019–20 season following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
On March 12th, 2020, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced “ In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight's games.”
Major League Baseball suspended spring training games and delayed the start of its regular season, scheduled for March 26, by at least two weeks. Major League Soccer announced it is suspending its season for 30 days. The PGA Tour canceled The Players Championship following the first day of play Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and said it was canceling all tour events through the Valero Texas Open, which was scheduled for April 2-5. The NCAA announced the cancellation of all of its winter and spring championships, including the Frozen Four and the men's and women's basketball tournaments.
From there everything looked bleak in sport and it spiraled with the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics and many world championship competitions. The sports world began analyzing their possible losses and began strategizing.
The NHL set up bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton to playout their season and crowned the Tampa bay Lightning as their Stanley Cup Champion. The NBA with outstanding poise set up camp in Orlando and crowned the L.A. Lakers as their Champion. Major League Soccer also set up camp in Orlando and crowned Portland their champion. The unorganized and dangerous MLB played and suffered through the pandemic and even on the day when they crowned the Dodgers as their champion, new positive tests were revealed.
The 2021 sports scene is not looking to promising but through out the world games are being played in empty stadiums but hopefully with the discovery of the miracle vaccine it will bring better times and optimism to the fans that desperately are looking for a return to a normality.