Sporting tradition can’t compete with the coronavirus
OAKLAND, Calif. — Every few minutes there’s another email, another postponement or cancellation, another disappointment.
The Kentucky Derby to September; the PGA Championship, the one at San Francisco’s Harding Park, from May to who knows when; the Ryder Cup from September to next year.
The coronavirus is making a mess of sport, not to mention life. A world that had been so organized, so under our computer keys, so to speak, is out of control. Reality has overwhelmed tradition.
The French Open always has been played in early June. Now, because of the fear of an opponent we neither can see — except in microscopic printouts — nor understand, it will be held in September.
After the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows.
And some of the competitors are dumbfounded, when certainly — taking into account the unpredictability of the disease and the difficulty in shifting such an important event — they should be appreciative.
“Excuse moi???” tweeted, Naomi Osaka, who’s won a U.S. Open and an Australian Open.
According to the New York Times, Steve Simon, who is in charge of the women’s tennis tour, said the WTA was stunned by the French Open’s choice. Vasek Pospisil, a member of the WTP player council, said the decision had “come literally out of the blue.”
In his distress, Pospisil, a Canadian, can be excused for using the word literally when he meant figuratively.
The idea in these desperate times, when curfews have been imposed, when hospital beds are at a premium, when the stock market is collapsing, is to get the games in any way possible without endangering the competitors or the fans.
The NCAA basketball tournament was called off. The NBA and NHL seasons are incomplete. Baseball players were told to go home. The Masters may be held in the fall. Or not at all.
The Warriors played a game at Chase Center eight days ago. And none since.
A month ago the great issue in sports was the Houston Astros cheating, stealing the signs of opposing catchers and then illegally sending them to Houston batters. What a scandal. And, compared to how the virus has affected all our sports, what a joke.
Kevin Durant tested positive for the coronavirus. Rudy Gobert tested positive. A British soccer player tested positive. That’s no joke. That’s frightening. There are warnings about close contact with others, about shaking hands, grabbing a banister, gripping the steering wheel.
These are unusual times. Even desperate times. If the NBA has to play until midsummer — assuming authorities are confident enough that the virus is less a threat than it had been — then that’s the way it must be.
We’re on the edge of uncharted territory. Basketball in August? The French Open in September? The Masters golf tournament in October? Better than not at all.
Conflicts are inevitable. The sports year is dictated by the calendar and history, from bowl games and that big NHL outdoor game on New Year’s Day to NCAA hoops to the NHL and NBA playoffs to baseball, then the NFL, college football. Along the way, there is golf and tennis.
Television is so much a factor, certainly, keeping us attuned, keeping us involved. We know what’s next. Except this year, because of a virus that has changed our lives and the games we follow, we don’t know.
If the French Open has to be in September and not June, well, we’re lucky it will be played at all.