For an American sporting culture accustomed to playing through pain and preserving the billions of dollars and countless livelihoods within it, the coronavirus began merely as background noise. A distraction, as a football coach might term it.
One year and countless warning flags, shutdowns and false starts removed from March 2020, we know better.
COVID-19 vs. Sports was no contest.
It’s easy to forget the fog of uncertainty that framed those uncertain days of late February and early March, as the virus snaked through a city in China, found its way to Europe and eventually landed on our shores.
As spring training began and NBA All-Stars convened in Chicago, it was an abstraction, a segment on a mid-February newscast competing for your attention with the New Hampshire primary. As Senior Nights commenced across college basketball amid the anticipation of February giving way to March, a White House task force, helmed by the vice president, was assembled.
Louder, now: A death at a nursing home near Seattle. Typically lighthearted morning clubhouse meetings in Arizona and Florida now included doctors, discussing this new virus. Bodybags in Italy. Is it silly to ponder who’s on the NCAA tournament bubble when we’re relearning how to wash our hands?
The Ivy League, canceling its tournament? Sure, they’re smart, but what does it matter, really? Governors and health officials and this scratchy-voiced immunologist named Fauci and why aren’t they starting this NBA game in…