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With sports schedules slashed over Coronavirus concerns, ripple effects expected

Commerica Park
MJCdetroit/Wikimedia Commons
Scenes like this one at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, are on hold. Major League Baseball delayed Opening Day, originally set for March 26, for at least two weeks.

The domino effect of the novel coronavirus has been on full display in the world of sports in past couple of days. After an NBA player tested positive for COVID-19, the league suspended its season. Since then, the NCAA has called off its men's and women's basketball tournaments. The NHL suspended its season. And Major League Baseball canceled the rest of spring training and has delayed Opening Day by at least two weeks.

Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou spoke with Jon Morosi about the ripple effects. Morosi covers baseball for MLB Network and Fox Sports. He also reports for the NHL Network and is a native Michigander.

Spring training cancellation creates unusal circumstances

During spring training, all MLB teams are on the road, in a sense, so very few players or staff members are able to be at their regular homes. 

“For now, the Tigers are going to remain in Lakeland, Florida [Detroit's spring training home]. The weekend will bring more news about if they're going to have continued activities in terms of workouts and preparation. So for now, I think a lot of the teams around baseball – all 30 of them – will stay relatively close to where they are at the moment," Morosi said. "However, there are reports the players' association would like to have some flexibility if players wish to return home to their families in this time of national emergency.”

As college sports seasons end early, so do some careers

"It's that combination of heartbreak for the student athletes affected, but also understanding what we all have to do now as citizens."

Michigan and Michigan State compete in the Big Ten, which is one of the many athletic conferences nationwide that have canceled sports for the rest of winter season and all of the spring season. The NCAA has also called off all postseason tournaments.

“It is jarring for all those student-athletes to have senior seasons cut short. You feel for them. I think everybody in the community here in Ann Arbor feels for the athletes at U of M, and that feeling extends to everybody around the country," Morosi said.

“It is a situation without precedent in our lives. And yet it is remarkable that over the last 48 hours it has become the consensus that this is the right thing to do, the socially responsible thing to do. So, it's that combination of heartbreak for the student athletes affected, but also understanding what we all have to do now as citizens.”

Ripple effect on stadium employees, nearby businesses

“We have seen the Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, say that he wants to still make good on the salaries of the hourly workers who are in the stadium. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers [is] making his $100,000 pledge to help those same people who work in Cleveland," Morosi said.

“I really found it fascinating, and perhaps a little heartening, that it was the sports leagues who I think really brought home the magnitude of this crisis to so many Americans for whom sports are a comfort and a ritual that is now going to be gone largely for the next month at least. And I think it's up to all of us in these communities, maybe in our small ways, to think about those people and consider ways in which we can help here in Ann Arbor, or whether it's in Detroit, and then certainly cities and college towns all around the country.”

Unprecedented in recent history

“There is truly nothing like the times in which we are living. And I do think it's causing sports fans to do a lot of reflection about what we've always had in our lives and now, what to do with our evenings [when]  there are no coaches to second guess right now.”

Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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