I don’t really want to write this blog but feel compelled to, because let’s face it – whether you have it or not, Coronavirus is affecting every aspect of our lives at this point – and if you don’t know what Coronavirus is by now, odds are you might already be in enough of a bubble to not have to worry about it. This is a hockey blog so I’m obviously not going to get into political machinations and will only talk about how this is (and will) affect the rest of the hockey season all around the world as well as everyone’s personal lives. Outside of the NHL you already have colleges like Harvard canceling the rest of their season already, many overseas leagues either have been or will be suspended, and the ones that aren’t may well play in empty buildings. Inside the NHL so far you have the Sharks moving – if not outright canceling – the rest of their home games this month.
With word coming down literally as I’m writing this that March Madness (the NCAA college basketball tournament) is closing off its tournament to fans due to public safety concerns, it seems inevitable that the NHL’s upcoming games and playoffs will also be affected. At this point it seems nothing is off the table. Will the entire postseason be played without fans, or be suspended entirely? It’s actually not unprecedented for the Stanley Cup to go unawarded due to health concerns, in 1919 the Spanish flu interrupted and eventually ended the Finals without a champion being crowned. Until now, that’s been the only season in modern history other than 2005 – thanks again, Bettman – where the cherished trophy wasn’t awarded.
I have to say I’ve bounced between both extremes in terms of my mentality. At times I have been guilty of the ‘now we’re getting a little too over the top here’ mindset while in general I am of the better safe than sorry approach. Even if I still do think to a degree people have to live their lives, and not in fear. This virus and the public alarm has at least temporarily changed even the most basic things about life such as curtailing public gatherings like big crowds at sporting matches, or parades – almost all St. Patrick’s Day parades are getting canceled including in Ireland itself. For a while we all have to accept maybe your friend doesn’t want to hug or shake your hand. And that stranger’s cough which can be an annoyance now becomes an alarm to get as far away as possible.
Even as arguably neccesary precautions get taken for the greater good, there’s a cost for many people whose jobs and lives are impacted by not being able to make a living.
It’s not just in sports obviously, it’s the cruise ship and airline workers who may get laid off, the teachers and students who won’t be able to complete their semesters, and any other profession or recreation that gets affected. There’s no easy answer how to fairly compensate everyone for lost wages and unpaid leave. Nobody feels bad for the billionaire sports owner who will lose a few gates over the next several months, but everyday people are going to be impacted by this as well and have the most to lose, both in terms of their ability to work and their personal health.
I’d like to say I have some message to calm everyone’s fears but that’s up to people more in the know than you or me. Personally I haven’t changed anything major at the moment but it’s easy for me to say since I’m not personally in the high-risk (re: older) demo yet although who really knows what’s high-risk at this point with such a new virus and the lack of accurate testing so far. In any case, you might want to be more careful if you have elderly relatives and friends around you.
I did kind of want to go to last night’s Devils game just because with the way things were heading it might be my last of the season with my next home game not till the 21st, but fortunately – given the way the Devils got smoked – I wound up doing trivia night with a couple of my friends instead. If my last home game of the year winds up being the shocking win over the Blues last Friday I’d be fine with that at this point. Already a season-ticket autograph session with P.K. Subban that was scheduled for tonight (a make-up since Subban couldn’t make the initial team autograph event) was canceled, and all fans who had RSVP’ed for the event will get an autographed picture via snail mail instead.
For now we just have to ride this out, hope things pass soon and in the meantime enjoy what we enjoy including the NHL from a distance, try to stick to being around the people you care about and be understanding if someone would rather Facetime or talk on the phone as opposed to in-person contact. And if you are sick, don’t try to be a hero – stay home, take care of yourself and don’t endanger or worry anyone else.