The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented situations for all of us, including from a collegiate athletics standpoint as all remaining athletic competitions, both NCAA and PSAC, that were scheduled to take place have been canceled.
The cancellation affected remaining championships from winter sports, most notably the NCAA Atlantic Region men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which were both scheduled to be hosted March 13 and 14 at Indiana’s Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex (KCAC).
IUP swimming and track and field teams also had championships with Crimson Hawk athletes scheduled to participate on deck prior to the cancellations.
The cancellations wipe out the majority of the seasons for baseball, lacrosse and softball, which are spring-only sports, and also ended the spring seasons for golf, tennis and track and field, sports which also compete in other seasons.
The Memorial Field House on IUP’s campus was shut down following the news of not only the athletic cancellation but the transition to off-campus, online education for IUP students for the remainder of the semester.
Professional sports have also been heavily affected. Sports such as the NBA, NHL, world soccer and NASCAR have had to essentially pause their seasons. The remainder of the inaugural season of the XFL reboot was canceled. MLB put a halt to Spring Training and will be forced to significantly delay the national pastime’s opening day. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed, and the yearly spectacle of the NFL Draft will likely take place inside a TV studio.
And that’s all just scratching the surface of what’s been affected not only in the sports world, but in the world in general, following the breakout of this pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong – The Penn will cover and discuss all of these sports on a national scale, just as we did when games were still being played.
But the real stories to be told come from each and every one of the university’s winter and spring sports teams – and maybe even the fall’s as well, depending on how things look near the end of a semester that almost feels like it’s ended already – and the effects the pandemic has had on their athletic, academic and personal lives.
Multiple teams weren’t anywhere near campus when the announcement of cancellation was made, as they were playing in or gearing up for trips down south, where the weather is more cooperative this time of year.
Other schools’ teams had already ventured to Indiana for the best of Division II basketball in the region, only to discover that the tournament would not happen at all, rather than just without fans in the stands.
Some teams barely even got any games in at all, home, away or otherwise, before the 2020 season was torn away from them.
It does appear that at least the spring’s athletes will not be charged with a season of eligibility, which we will also cover in-depth in a later issue. But that doesn’t mean that the loss of the rest of the 2020 season, no matter how deep the teams were into it, doesn’t sting worse than we ever imagined that sports could make us sting.
This season, it wasn’t the wins or losses that gave the chance to feel our emotion – it was the loss of any chance at those experiences.
Time will roll on, and the world will move past this, but the hole that has been created in the world of sports will not be soon forgotten.