As the coronavirus pandemic halts a worried nation, we face an increasingly uncertain and isolated world. From college campuses to movie theaters, from local parks to major interstates, we see normally busy areas—especially in the early spring weather—unusually devoid of people, (rightfully) abandoned in the name of public health. Perhaps the abandonment most keenly felt has been in the sports world.
After NBA star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, the sports world has reacted swiftly and decisively. On March 12, the governing body of college sports, the NCAA, canceled all remaining winter and spring sports. The NBA season has been postponed, angling nearer and nearer cancellation with each passing day. The MLB and NHL seasons dangle in similar precariousness. The 2020 Summer Olympics has been pushed to 2021. There will be no Wimbledon, no Open Championship, no “One Shining Moment.”
While we may bemoan the absence of professional stars, the NCAA decision to cancel collegiate seasons has left a wake of amateur athletes reeling from the loss of their season. We can trust that LeBron James, Mike Trout, and Serena Williams will once again chase titles and accolades; the stars will return. What about the other athletes, the ones with four years of eligibility and limited professional prospects—like those at the University of Chicago?
The news of spring quarter’s move to remote learning heralded the end of the Maroons’ seasons. Days before national meets, winter athletes were informed that the NCAA had cancelled all competition. Seniors seeking national titles saw their dreams cut short in the wake of this news. Moreover, many spring athletes were left devastated with the early end to their seasons. Most teams were playing in their last games and practices without knowing their seasons had been terminated.
Under social distancing protocols, the entire University community must find new ways to engage in athleticism. All on-campus athletic facilities and the Chicago lakefront trail were closed in the weeks following the announcement of remote learning and social distancing measures. Nevertheless, our community’s ability to innovate and prosper in the face of challenge has flourished. Varsity teams are leaning on each other for support in these times, engaging in team challenges to stay in shape. The Department of Athletics and Recreation will be offering remote continuations for intramural leagues. Across the world, students and faculty alike have taken to running, hiking, and walking, spreading our Maroon community globally.
As a section, we are no exception to meeting the challenge of remote learning with novel approaches. We plan to provide a new look for the sports section as a new normal. This includes an increase in the number of lifestyle pieces on how athletes and students alike are keeping in shape in this time as well as recommendations for our readers on how they can do the same. In addition to the lifestyle pieces, we will continue to profile some of our fourth-year athletes this spring. Lastly, due to these changes, we will publish some personal essays from our student athletes who are either graduating, had their spring season cut short, or even their career cut short. While we know that the section may lack in the exciting recaps of sporting events for the time being, we will continue to be innovative with ideas in how to get sports news to you, the reader, in a time of extremely limited sports action.
—Alison Gill, Thomas Gordon, and Brinda Rao