2020: A Crazy Year for Sports
Photo obtained from hellomagazine.com
2020 was an unusual year. It took away legends before their time and also brought some unprecedented changes to the sports world. From the death of sport icons, to the closing of sporting events, followed by the creation of bubbles, and even fully virtual drafts; the sports world changed in a flash.
Last year's “welcoming committee,” was the traumatic death of two phenomenal athletes, Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The two died in a fiery helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, with a few of Gianna’s teammates on the way to her basketball game. Fans of the basketball legend and daughter were devastated leading to many colorful murals being painted all over the city of Los Angeles in memory of the two athletes. In the next few weeks, Kobe and Gigi had their memorial at Staples Center, the home stadium of where Kobe played with the Lakers for 20 years. Many celebrities and icons showed up to say their final words and goodbyes to the Black Mamba and Mambacita.
Following Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s deaths was the fast spread of the coronavirus. As the deadly disease spread, K-12 grade level schools and colleges shut down in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. With the closing of schools came the end to senior seasons for hard working and gifted athletes. The NCAA also canceled March Madness to contain the virus.
Photo obtained from ESPN,Sabrina Lonescu From WNBA
After the college level closed their sports, the professional leagues followed. To ensure a safe and healthy season, the NBA and WNBA created a “bubble” where only the athletes, coaching staff, and additional staff were allowed in. The creation of the bubble environment stopped the spread for all of the people inside and allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to take the team’s 17th Championship win. The MLS also started off their season with a bubble and after getting “control” of the virus they went on without a bubble. The MLB and NFL chose to not do a form of a bubble which lead to many cancelations of games and constant rescheduling of games; leaving fans, players, coaches, and even the tv broadcasters on their toes.
As a result of the deadly spread of the virus, no spectators were allowed in almost every stadium. Only on television could people see their favorite teams play games, whether it be college or professional level. The Pac12 only gave their teams 5 games this past season and the BIG10 gave their teams up to 10 games to play. The SEC teams played 10 games each. All of the schools were allowed to play their games as long as no one on the field had corona, or had been in contact with someone with corona two weeks prior. As the seasons finalized, the teams also slowly saw who would be playing in a bowl or championship game. One of the most famous football bowl games is the Rose Bowl, which takes place in Pasadena, California, where the UCLA Bruins usually play all their home games. However, due to Mayor Garcetti and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the actual Rose Bowl stadium would not allow spectators to attend the game in person. The game was moved to Texas at AT&T’s Stadium, and it was the first time the game had been moved to a different field in 52 years. The last time the game was relocated was because of Pearl Harbor in 1942.
One of the last things that also changed was for rookies, the style of how the drafting went. This past year, each professional sport did a virtual draft. The first virtual draft was with the WNBA where Sabrina Ionescu was the first draft pick going to the New York Liberty. The WNBA also dedicated the draft to Gianna Bryant and her two teammates who died with her in the helicopter crash, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli. The second fully virtual draft was with the NFL in April. Where Joe Burrow went as the first pick to the Cincinnati Bengals. The third virtual draft was with the NBA in mid November where the Hornets got the third draft pick and chose Lamelo Ball.
Despite having so many difficult changes and new challenges, the sports world made do with what was given to them and created a pretty memorable 2020 for us all. However, the real question is: Will 2021 bring back sports as we know it, or stay along this path?