Guide To Sports League Activity, Suspensions During Coronavirus Shutdown

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]From the moment the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder players were pulled off the court on Wednesday, March 11 and it was announced that Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, the sports betting world hasn’t been the same. In quick succession, sports leagues suspended their seasons and sportsbooks all but ran out of markets for betting. Here is an overview of where all of the popular betting sports stand while the sports world awaits a return to normalcy.

NBA

Commissioner Adam Silver made the NBA the first major American sports league to press pause on its season, declaring on the night of March 11 that all play was suspended following the first positive test of one of the league’s athletes.

At the time of the suspension, NBA teams had all played between 63 and 67 of the 82 games on their schedules.

Silver has expressed optimism that the season will resume, possibly as early as June, with games played in empty arenas suggested as one potential option to create a relatively safe environment. While a full 82-game schedule seems unlikely, some sort of postseason tournament appears realistic depending on the progression of the virus, and the NBA is relatively well equipped to adjust its 2020-’21 schedule accordingly.

During the hiatus, the NBA has been working hard to test and quarantine teams and players.

NHL

One day after the NBA set the trend, the NHL announced a pause in play on March 12 — and Commissioner Gary Bettman asserted that he’d made the decision the night before but wanted to confer with the board of governors before announcing it.

NHL teams had played between 68 and 71 of their full schedule of 82 games when play was halted.

As of the end of March, the league was reportedly considering re-opening training camps around the end of April or beginning of May, and league officials have said it’s practical to consider a season that stretches as late as August.

The NHL scouting combine, draft, and season awards have all been postponed, pending a determination of when/whether the season can resume.

MLB

The start of the regular season was two weeks away when MLB, after allowing five of the 13 spring training games that day to be played, announced a stoppage on March 12.

The league promptly announced that Opening Day would be delayed by at least two weeks.

That time frame quickly proved unrealistic. By late March, league officials were targeting mid-May for a return to training camps and June as the first month the season could start. A full 162-game season is all but off the table, but with doubleheaders baked into the revised schedule and by extending the regular season into October — and possibly playing November playoff games in neutral-site domes or warm-weather stadiums — there’s still a possibility of coming close to a complete season. The option of playing in empty stadiums has been discussed.

The league and the MLB Players Association reached a deal on March 26 regarding specifics of pay and free agency in the event of a shortened or canceled 2020 season.

NFL

America’s most popular sports league was fortunate to see the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S. during its offseason. In the early weeks of the pandemic, there was no need to announce delays to the start of the season, and NFL free agency proceeded on schedule.

The NFL draft will go on as scheduled April 23-25, but there will be no handshakes or hugs with Commissioner Roger Goodell, as it will be conducted remotely rather than in Las Vegas. General managers expressed concerns about drafting players without the opportunity to work them out or perform psychological testing, but with all teams operating at the same disadvantage, the NFL deemed it fair to hold a draft without postponement.

XFL

Exactly halfway through its 10-game schedule, the first XFL season since 2001 ended abruptly on March 12. The final five games for each team will not be made up, there will be no playoffs, and no champion will be crowned.

All futures bets on win totals, championship, MVP, etc., have been refunded.

The league promised to pay all players their base pay and benefits through the scheduled end of the regular season. Players also became eligible on March 13 to sign with NFL teams. Despite the disappointing and inconclusive finish to the season, “the XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years,” the league said in a statement.

NCAA basketball

For many fans and bettors, the loss of the March Madness tournament was the most painful sports sacrifice made in the effort to limit the spread of this coronavirus.

The NCAA showed more reluctance than most of the pro leagues to halt play, allowing a Big East conference tournament game on March 12 to begin before canceling the game at halftime, when the NCAA announced a decision to cancel all remaining winter and spring championships. That meant the 64-team (or 68, if you count the play-in games) tournament was not played and would not be rescheduled.

Although Division I spring athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA on March 30 to make up for their lost season, winter athletes have not received the same extension.

NCAA football

With the virus shutdown occurring during the football offseason, no immediate indication was needed regarding schedule adjustments. Spring practices assuredly will not go forward, and analyst Kirk Herbstreit offered a pessimistic prediction about the season ahead, but nothing about the fall season is concrete.

Soccer

While the Belarus Premier League played on through the end of March, every other notable soccer league either postponed or canceled the remainder of its season.

The English Premier League postponed play until at least April 30, but league representatives insist they intend to finish the season. In the U.S., MLS suspended play until at least May 10. All other major global leagues have halted play, and Euro 2020 was postponed until 2021.

Auto racing

Numerous Formula One races around the globe have been postponed, and Monaco Grand Prix organizers announced the race will not take place in 2020.

NASCAR has postponed its season until at least May 9.

The Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 24, has been bumped back to Aug. 23, marking the first time since 1946 that it won’t run on Memorial Day weekend.

PGA

The Players Championship completed one round on March 12, but the remaining three days of the event were canceled, setting the state for other golf tournaments to follow.

The Masters, scheduled for April 9-12, was postponed with the hope that it can be played in November. The May 14-17 PGA Championship was also yanked from the calendar and rescheduled for August. The U.S. Open, scheduled originally for June, was postponed to September. The 2020 Open Championship, commonly referred to as the British Open, was canceled and will not be made up. As of April 6, the plan was for the Tour to resume in mid-June, with no fans in attendance.

Tennis

The French Open, the next major on the calendar, has been rescheduled from a fortnight in May/June to a Sept. 20-Oct. 4 run.

On March 30, word circulated that Wimbledon wouldn’t just be postponed from its June-July dates but in fact canceled entirely due to the seasonal nature of maintaining grass courts. This will mark the first year without Wimbledon since the final year of World War II, 1945.

Aside from the majors, the ATP and WTA have suspended all play on both tours through June 7.

Boxing/MMA

One minor televised boxing card went ahead on Friday, March 13, but otherwise the calendar of scheduled bouts was scrapped in the U.S. and most of the world. The third Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder fight, once expected to happen in July, will now likely wait until October. A third Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin fight is reportedly in the works for September.

The UFC has been particularly reluctant to cancel major events, with President Dana White insisting fights can take place without fans in attendance. He fought hard for the April 18 Khabib Nurmagomedov-Tony Ferguson bout to proceed, but Nurmagomedov got stuck in Russia due to a travel ban — possibly leaving the card to continue with Ferguson against a replacement opponent.

Olympics

On March 24, the Tokyo Olympics were officially pushed back to 2021, with a planned opening ceremony date of next July 23. All athletes who already qualified will keep their spots, the IOC said.

Horse racing

As of the end of March, the sport continues at about two dozen tracks in the U.S., without spectators. But most racetracks have suspended operations.

In terms of major races, the Kentucky Derby was moved from May 2 to Sept. 5, with the expectation that the other Triple Crown races — the Preakness and Belmont Stakes — will have their own fall dates after that.

WNBA

The season is scheduled to start on May 15, and no announcement has been made yet about pushing that date back.

The draft will be conducted remotely on April 17 as scheduled, with ESPN set to televise.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]