When it comes to sports, nothing in our lifetime compares to what has happened this month, according to Virginia Tech sports media and analytics professor Bill Roth.
“From the NCAA Tournament and the Masters, to the start of baseball season and the Olympics, all sports are being cancelled. It’s the correct decision when it comes to public safety, but unprecedented in our time to be completely halted like this,” said Roth. “We don’t know yet how it might impact our pro and college sports leagues, but it could start a surge of e-sports or virtual sports leagues which are growing.”
From an economic standpoint, Roth says he’s concerned some teams might not survive.
“The financial impact on college athletics could be devastating for some universities. And the long-term health and safety of our athletes might change the sports we play, or how we as fans attend games. I’m sure we will return to some sense of normalcy eventually, but for athletes who miss the Olympics or college students who are graduating, they might not get the chance to participate,” he said.
For the thousands of children involved in youth sports, Roth wonders about the long-term safety of kids who play.
“Can we keep them safe? Can we allow little leaguers to play without screening the participants and the umpires? Who would pay for this additional screening? If someone asymptomatic can spread this virus, how can we let anyone play or officiate or even attend? And how do we screen participants before each game?”
As COVID-19 has brought American life to a standstill, Roth says everyone’s health and safety is priority one. Until then, it’s anyone’s guess when things will return to normal.
“I don’t know when or if we will have full stadiums again. Hopefully this fall. I think we’ve learned how important sports are to our culture. Perhaps the most therapeutic thing we could have this summer is the sound of the crack of the bat, and roar of the crowd!”