MLS, NHL, MLB, March Madness put on hold

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout North American, sports have officially taken a backseat.

Thursday saw Major League Soccer and the NHL join the NBA in suspending their current seasons while Major League Baseball canceled spring training with the regular season set to be affected as well.

In college sports, major conference postseason basketball tournaments ranging from the Big Ten to Big 12, to the ACC, to the Big East, were also canceled — casting doubt upon the NCAA Tournament, which was set to go ahead as planned but in empty arenas.

The NBA was the first major sports league in North America to suspend its season, announcing the decision on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. His teammate, Donovan Mitchell, later tested positive for the virus.

Major League Soccer was the first league on Thursday to announce its work stoppage for 30 days.

“At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events,” MLS commissioner Don Garber released in a statement.

Around noon ET, numerous NCAA conferences announced the cancellations of their postseason tournaments, but St. John’s and Creighton tipped-off in their Big East second-round matchup at 12:30 p.m. ET.

After playing the first half and heading into the locker rooms, the Big East decided to cancel the game and the rest of the tournament.

Later Thursday evening, the NCAA announced that the men’s and women’s tournaments, or March Madness, would be canceled this year.

The NHL finally followed in the NBA’s footsteps after much speculation that it would suspend play on Wednesday night. However, commissioner Gary Bettman and league owners held a conference call Thursday afternoon to table the idea of stopping play, which received no pushback.

“Following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus — and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point — it is no longer appropriate to try and continue to play games at this time,” Bettman said.

Despite playing spring training games throughout the afternoon, Major League Baseball called their remaining slate of exhibition games and pushed back Opening Day by at least two weeks.

The earliest the season will start now is April 8.

“This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, clubs and our millions of loyal fans,” MLB released in a statement. “MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season… MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.”


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