Coronavirus puts an end to local, national sports seasons

By Brady Phister

After the Miami men’s basketball team defeated Buffalo, Monday in an upset road victory, they were expecting to move onto Cleveland to play in front of thousands of fans at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals.

Thanks to the coronavirus, the RedHawks did not get the chance to play on the conference’s biggest stage. Thursday afternoon, the MAC, along with countless other college athletics leagues, announced that they were canceling the postseason tournament.

Miami athletics, along with essentially all other major sporting events in the nation, have been postponed or canceled, including the NCAA basketball tournament, the NHL and the MLB.

For the foreseeable future, Miami sports will be on a break. The MAC announced Thursday that all programs in the league will no longer be holding regular season or postseason contests, all practices and recruiting events have been suspended indefinitely.

The announcement came on the heels of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine discouraging large gatherings in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, specifically calling for large sporting events to be held without spectators or canceled.

Miami athletics director David Sayler emphasized the influence of DeWine’s comments in the conference’s course of action.

“It definitely shifted when the governor had his press conference,” Sayler said. “It’s definitely an indication of how important it is when the governor makes a statement the way he did, and I think everyone should pay attention to that.”

The men’s basketball team is not the only athletic program in Oxford feeling the effects of the disease.

After Miami announced Tuesday that gatherings of over 100 people need to be avoided, the football program is taking precautions.

Per the statement coming from the MAC, the football program will cease all practices until further notice.

Sayler said the team has canceled a football on-campus recruiting event. The athletic department has scratched coaches’ recruiting trips across the country and is prepared for further hurdles should the crisis heighten.

“We’re prepared to tighten down even further if that’s what we have to do,” Sayler said.

Other sports including softball, baseball and track & field are also affected. The Miami baseball team defeated Penn State Thursday, but its season could very well be over now that the new regulations have been put into place.

On a high school level, the coronavirus is wreaking havoc on postseason play across the state. Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass announced Thursday that basketball, hockey and wrestling postseason events will all be canceled.

Locally, this affects Talawanda wrestler Terrel Wills who would have been competing in the state wrestling tournament Saturday in Columbus.  

Snodgrass regretted having to implement this plan, given the excitement many high school athletes have competing at such a high level, but also needed to react to the severity of the situation.

“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the Governor,” Snodgrass said.

For now, the Miami recreation center is operating as usual, but area athletics and recreation activities may be subject to change in the days to come according to the development of this situation.