I remember one of the first impacts COVID-19 had on the world of sports. Jan. 25, 2020, was the day I saw the tweet. The League of Legends Pro League’s Twitter account announced that their second week of matches would be postponed until further notice. For those who know me, esports is my passion, and I sometimes ruin my sleep schedule to watch it at 3 a.m. on a school night. So this news was hard-hitting for a fan like me.
The last time I saw a live, professional sport feels like an eternity ago, and quite honestly, I do not remember what game it was. Growing up in Washington state, I would always go to the Seattle Sounders games, and the roar of their stadium is something COVID-19 has taken away. Every sports fan wants to live among the sea of fans and be drowned by the people next to them, but who knows when that will be seen again.
March 11 and 12, 2020, were not happy days in the basketball world as the NBA and the NCAA were suspended, respectively. The NBA was able to make its return in June with an adjusted format of 22 teams and a shortened tournament. Meanwhile, March Madness was canceled in 2020, the best time for fans as they watch their “perfect bracket” get ruined in the first round. It is a tradition to make a bracket, even for me, someone who has no passion for basketball. No live sports, no March Madness: Sports were already doomed.
American football really dodged a bullet, as their season ended before the outbreak, and they had plenty of time to adjust to it. This was one of few leagues that did not get impacted during its season.
One of the strongest memories sports fanatics will have from the COVID-19 era is the bubble. If you watch sports, you know what the bubble is. To accommodate shutdowns, the leagues created either a shorter season or a tournament and commonly chose the bubble method, where all teams were sent to a location to quarantine. Once they quarantined, the teams were not to leave the bubble until the end of the tournament. During that time, no fans were allowed to go to the games. This was an attempt to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still allowing games to take place.
March 24, 2020, was nothing but a day of terror for sports fans. ESPN announced that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had been postponed. This is the first time in Olympics’ history that the Olympics had been canceled or postponed for a reason other than war. The Olympics are iconic; it is a competition among the best athletes in the world. We rarely see that happen in any sport. We wait every four years to see the World Cup. We wait every four years to see the best hockey team at the Winter Olympics. This time, we will be waiting five years for the Olympics.
COVID-19 really took a toll on the world of sports, but that does not mean it did not have its moments. Teams that won championships this past year are going down in history. The Portland Timbers won the MLS is Back Tournament and the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals, both of which took place in the bubble. On a different note, esports got to receive some praise, and they even had some games live on ESPN-2. Esports went from games on LAN and shifted to an online environment, which was a massive change.
All this to say, COVID-19 sucks, especially for sports fans, and who knows when a stadium will be at maximum capacity again. But we can hope. What sports fans learned this year is that they will always get to watch their sport because it is of such high demand — and they can thank themselves for that.