On the sporting front, the biggest news of the day is the suspension of the NBA season. It follows on the heels of the announcement that the NCAA will conduct March Madness largely to March silence.
As the coronavirus spreads throughout various parts of the United States, rapidly catching up to the acute effect in several nations already hard hit around the world, we are progressively seeing the cancellation of multiple mass gathering events.
South by Southwest.
Not this year.
Major league baseball is about to start its season and could follow the NBA or NCAA. The Summer Olympics are still months away but also have to already be in question. The spectacle of Wrestlemania is mere weeks away. We don’t know how this will all unfold. Whether it’s playing to empty houses, or not playing at all, those who get their entertainment from sports or sports adjacent events could find more time on their hands than is normally the case.
Boxing, as a largely indoor arena sport, has to be seen as on the same tenuous footing.
Over the last couple weeks, there has been speculation about big cards featuring the likes of Anthony Joshua and Saul Alvarez. We can hope for the best and an upturn before then in global public health but could well find those events held off. So too could myriad smaller cards up and down the scale and all across the globe. This Saturday, both ESPN and FS1 are slated to air live cards from Madison Square Garden and the Mid-Atlantic MGM Grand respectively.
So far, they are still a go.
Alternately, ESPN reports tonight three cards in Montreal have been cancelled. They won’t be the last.
Unlike major team sports where player’s unions and television contracts can insulate some athletes from the economic downsides, many boxers will be left playing without a net. They are, like members of the services and gig economies particularly vulnerable right now if boxing is their primary source of income. It’s a tough spot to be in.
So few in so few walks of life have much cushion to play with.
But in the big picture, it’s ok to put away our sports and games if need be for awhile.
Sometimes, real life gets in the way of our places of leisure. The health and safety of our family, friends, and neighbors matters so much more. There are moments in time where humanity has an opportunity to call on its better angels. This could be one of those moments.
A chance to look out for each other.
A chance to try to protect those most vulnerable.
A chance to reflect on the who and what that matters and ties us all together.
There have been moments where sports was put into perspective before. During World War II, boxing lost some of its finest practitioners. The great Joe Louis and Tony Zale both lost roughly three years of in-ring career. Baseball great Ted Williams served in both World War II and Korea, in combat. War travel restrictions led to the cancellation of the 1945 MLB All Star Game. After 9/11, the middleweight championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad suffered a memorable delay.
Eventually, those moments passed. Right now, uncertainty abounds. This could get better sooner than it seems in this second or darker times could be ahead. The effects, regardless, will be felt all around us until it’s concluded. When crisis subsides, sports will be part of what reminds us things are getting back to normal again.
Rest assured, normal will be there again.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]