The sports world has been at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic for roughly a month, and despite the widespread eagerness to restart games, a majority of Americans said in a recent poll they would not attend sporting events in person just yet.
Some 72% of Americans polled said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. The poll, which had a fairly small sample size of 762 respondents, was released Thursday by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business.
When polling respondents who identified as sports fans, 61% said they would not go to a game without a vaccine. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.6%.
Only 12% of all respondents said they would go to games if social distancing could be maintained, which would likely lead to a highly reduced number of fans, staff and media at games. For example, fan capacity for a Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers game at Staples Center is around 19,000.
The poll shows that the coronavirus pandemic would affect sports for the foreseeable future, even if some resume.
Just 13% of Americans said they would feel comfortable attending games again the way they had in the past.
“This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll. “Those who identify as sports fans, at all levels of interest, line up closely with the general population in regard to their own safety and that of the players.”
A compromise could be found in having games with no fans, an idea that garnered sufficient support. More than three-fourths — 76% — said they would watch broadcasts of games without fans and do so with the same amount of interest they had before the pandemic. Only 16% said they would be less interested, but 7% said they would be more interested.
Though there has been discussion of games without spectators, nearly half of respondents — 46% — said they think sports will be canceled through the end of 2020.
It was Steph Curry on the fast break throwing a blind, over-the-shoulder pass to Kevin Durant for the easy dunk.
It was Andre Iguodala stripping Damian Lillard or LeBron James and igniting transition offense.
It was Klay Thompson running through a maze of screens before getting the perfect pass from Shaun Livingston and firing one through the net.
We’re 24 days into this cycle of sports nostalgia — it’s all we have in the absence of live events — and rarely does a day pass without images of recent Warriors supremacy flashing across TV/computer screens. Fans are allowing themselves to reminisce. So, too, is the coach.
“That was pretty special era, with special teams,” Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “The one thing that has always stood out to me, whether I was a part of a special team as a player or coach, or a fan of a special team, is that It’s not just wins and losses. It’s the style, and the connection with fans.”
The Warriors entered 2019-20 coming off the most impressive five-year run in NBA history, compiling a 322-88 record, for a .785 winning percentage. The three championships and five consecutive trips to The Finals are well-chronicled.
But the level of mastery on display is, in retrospect, nothing less than startling.
“There’s been this incredible momentum and connection with our fans over the last five or six years, and it’s tough to match that,” Kerr said. “Some of that is due to the incredibly high level of play. People come … that’s what they want to see. Whether it’s like seeing a rock band at the height of their powers or an artist, it’s the same concept. They just want to see something beautiful and experience something beautiful. That’s the connection.”
It was Draymond Green squaring up to defend James Harden and stripping him for the steal.
It was Durant, staring down LeBron and then walking into a top-of-the-key 3-point kill shot.
It was Andrew Bogut slyly slipping an exquisitely timed pass to Curry and diving toward the rim.
“I always thought Bogut was one of the most underappreciated parts of our team,” Kerr recalls. “Those first two years, his passing, his dribble-handoff game, his defense, his working with Draymond on that end … Bogut was incredible. Just an incredible basketball player, and he complemented that group perfectly.
“And then the team kind of morphs, different guys coming and going, and it’s still really about Steph and Klay and Draymond and Andre. But you see these key figures come in. Like David West, playing 15 minutes a night and picking people apart. It was beautiful to watch.”
The Warriors posted successive seasons with 39-2 records at Oracle Arena. Regular-season records piled up: 73 wins, 54 straight home victories, 34 road wins and 24-0 to open a season.
The shooting was superb, the ball movement wizardly, the defense ravenous. Above all, there was a visible synergy that often resulted in sequences that appeared choreographed.
It was Kevon Looney switching out on DeMar DeRozan and giving up nothing. It was JaVale McGee catching lobs, maintaining a presence in the paint and resuscitating his career. It was Zaza Pachulia setting a perfect screen or dropping a bounce pass backward between his legs.
It was Curry single-handedly destroying a defense, Green single-handedly stifling an offense.
“Even within that five-year run, the core was the same, but there were different guys who provided different things, different dynamics to our team,” Kerr says. “That was the apex. I don’t know that we ever reached a higher level as a group than we reached 2016, when we won 73, but the ’17 team was the best because of Kevin. Just the unstoppable nature of having the ability to always go to him anytime we needed to. That team was just devastating.”
Perhaps no accomplishment was more impressive than opening the 2017 postseason with 15 consecutive wins and becoming the first team to hang a 16-1 record on its challengers. They won closeout games by an average of 18.5 points.
One game, however, sends Kerr practically into a dreamlike state.
After coaching Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kerr stepped away to cope with unrelenting physical discomfort. Lead assistant Mike Brown took over, and the Warriors posted a tight (119-113) win in Game 3. Win Game 4 and the sweep is completed.
“Our first quarter was almost unfair,” Kerr recalls. “I think we scored 40 points.”
Make it 45. The Warriors rolled to leads of 14-0, 22-3 and 35-9 before closing the quarter with a 45-22 lead and eventually coasting to a 128-103 rout.
“It’s like we had everything going,” Kerr says. “JaVale was getting dunks because (the Blazers) were so worried about all the shooting on the perimeter. We defended like crazy. That game just felt unfair.”
Indeed, it did, as did many others over a five-year span that might be better appreciated in hindsight and will be exceedingly difficult to equal, much less surpass.
With the coronavirus condemning us all to our couches indefinitely, the world as we know it will never be the same again. Thankfully, ESPN has stepped up to be the hero we need during these perilous times and announced that its highly anticipated 10-part docuseries, The Last Dance, will debut on April 19 instead of its original June release date.
The Last Dance puts Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls under the microscope and according to The Athletic, it will air on ESPN every Sunday night from April 19 to May 17—two episodes at a time.
With professional sports leagues experiencing an unprecedented work stoppage that has turned ESPN’s programming schedule into a nightmare, this isn’t a perfect replacement, but it’s a damn good alternative to watching nothing at all.
“As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience,” ESPN said in a statement. “We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that.”
ESPN continued, “This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.”
Fans have been clamoring for weeks for ESPN to move up the date, and during a recent appearance on Richard Jefferson’s Road Trippin’ podcast, LeBron James echoed their sentiments.
“If they release that thing right now? The views on it?” James said. “Listen, if I’m Michael Jordan, I’m going in there and I’m making a conference call and I’m like, ‘OK, what’s the reason that we’re going to hold on to it until June now? Compared to now when everybody is at home?’ Because it’s done [being edited]. It’s done. Yeah, it’s done.”
And as for the new release date, it’s safe to assume that it’s been met with universal acclaim.
Much like everyone else, I can’t wait to revisit my disdain for all things Michael Jeffrey Jordan—anyone care to remind him that my team, the Orlando Magic, gave him that work in the ‘95 NBA Playoffs?—and that the 19th can’t come soon enough.
Check out the extended trailer for The Last Dance below…
One of the site owner/admistrator’s (at least top 3) most favorite YouTube videos of all-time… it has been awhile since I posted it, but just seemed appropriate right now… I pray all of you keep healthy and safe during this extremely difficult time for humanity… blessings…
(From the youtube liner notes):
” ‘Amen’, from the album Sun Ship…
Revisiting old Jordan clips around the same time as this Trane, I suddenly felt a deep connection there and was curious to see how footage would by chance combine, align and double up in spirit and time with the music. Seeing the moves, invention and control of Jordan alongside the feel, pacing and power of this particular track (one of the last by this quartet, recorded August 26, 1965)… Heroes unstoppable at the top of their game, leading their teams. The message of that zone, rhythm, strength and ORIGINALITY. Athletes of the heart! We indulge…
Warriors guard Steph Curry usually relays messages from the comfort of a controlled press conference.
Curry did so from his couch Thursday morning, interviewing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, on Instagram Live to shed light on the pandemic-causing COVID-19.
The idea of the 30-minute interview was cultivated last week, according to a league source, following Fauci’s appearance on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast. David Schwab — executive vice president of sports management company Octagon, which represents Curry– called on athletes to use their platforms to interview figures like Fauci.
Following Schwab’s tweet, Curry’s representatives reached out to Schwab, who acted as an intermediary between Curry’s team and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The idea was to target young people who aren’t getting their news from cable news channels.
Fauci discussed a number of topics during the interview, including testing and social distancing. The United States has over 80,000 confirmed cases as of Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The NBA suspended its season earlier this month after Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
Many initially thought the coronavirus carried similar symptoms and risks as the flu, Fauci said Thursday the coronavirus has shown to be “10 times” worse than influenza.
“It’s similar in that it’s a respiratory illness that’s transmitted by the respiratory route,” Fauci said. “It gives a degree of pathology that it’s very, very much more transmissible than flu and more importantly, it’s significantly more serious.”
The number of coronavirus cases nationwide is disputed due to limited access to testing equipment. On Thursday’s chat, Fauci said that more tests are expected to be available with the help of private labs.
“That’s been a real issue early on,” Fauci said. “Several weeks ago we were not in a place we wanted to be or needed to be.”
“Right now there are literally hundreds of thousands of tests out there,” he added. “Mostly because we got the private sector involved.”
The coronavirus can cause respiratory problems, including cough, fever, shortness of breath and, more severely, pneumonia. While elders and people with weak immune systems typically are more susceptible, Fauci said younger patients should beware of the virus as well.
“Very heavily weighted towards the elderly and those underlying conditions,” he said. “ … Those are the people who have a higher degree of mortality,” he said. “But what we are starting to see is people who are younger … who don’t have any underlying conditions, who are getting seriously ill. It’s still a very small minority, but it doesn’t mean that young people like yourself should say, ‘I’m completely exempt from any risks of getting seriously ill.’ “
States have begun implementing social distancing measures in recent weeks to encourage citizens to stay at home in order to limit the coronavirus’ spread. California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered residents to stay in their homes and closed non-essential businesses last week in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the virus’ impact on hospitals and public-health systems.
Fauci expressed optimism about beating the coronavirus if citizens continue to practice social distancing.
“If we really push, we hope we will know by the time we get to next winter whether or not we have something that works,” Fauci said. “Vaccines are going to be important for next time around, not for what we’re dealing with now.”
Barack Obama comments in Steph Curry’s coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Fauci
Amid the NBA coming to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic, Steph Curry continues to have his most meaningful assists off the court.
He did so again Thursday when he held a Q&A on Instagram Live with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well as a lead member of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce. Thousands upon thousands of people tuned into the talk, including former President Barack Obama.
Curry himself asked Fauci what kind of numbers the doctor is looking at, and what needs to be done in order for sports can return to play.
“What you need is to see the trajectory of the curve start to come down,” Fauci explained. “We’ve seen that in China. They went up and down and are starting to get back to some normal life. They have to be careful they don’t re-introduce the virus back into China. But they’re on the other side of the curve. Korea is starting to do that, they’re starting to come down. Europe, particularly Italy, are in a terrible situation. They’re still going way up.
“The United States is a big country. We have so many different regions — like New York City right now is having a terrible time, and yet there are places in the country that are really doing quite well. … So a direct answer to your question, we can start think about getting back to some degree of normality when the country as a whole has turned that corner and starts coming down.
“Then you can pinpoint cases much more easily than getting overwhelmed by cases, which is what’s going on in New York City.”
Dr. Fauci did not give a timeline or date of when he believes the NBA or any other sport can continue play.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, March 11. Commissioner Adam Silver immediately suspended the season. Nine other players, including Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, have tested positive since then. The league has every intention of resuming play at some point, though, no date has been set.
Curry has been vocal in this time of need, preaching the practice of social distancing. He and Warriors coach Steve Kerr have used their platforms to reach as many people as possible in order to make sure we’re all responsible and looking out for each other.
As of this publishing, there have been 68,827 known cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 1,009 deaths, according to NBC News.
It’s been exactly two weeks since NBA All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, sending the entire league into a tailspin and suspending operations indefinitely. In the time since, players have poured themselves into video games, social media, and other distractions, while others have tried their best to circumvent the pandemic or have been forced to face it head-on.
Among those directly affected by this crisis is Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, who took to his YouTube channel on Tuesday night to reveal that his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, has been placed in a medically-induced coma as a result of the virus.
“I was told early last week my parents weren’t feeling well,” he said in the video. “My first reaction to [my mom] was to go seek medical attention immediately. […] And after a couple of days of not showing any signs of improvement, I was very adamant on the first day to go to a hospital and seek further evaluation.”
He added, “She kept getting worse, she kept getting worse, and the hospital was doing everything they can.”
He noted that she was unable to break her fever from 103 degrees, and her condition continued to deteriorate until she recently appeared to be on the mend.
“She was feeling great,” Towns said. “We talked, and she felt she turned the corner. […] I knew there was more days to come, but I felt that we were heading in the right direction. They said that she went sideways, and things had went sideways, quick. And her lungs were extremely getting worse, and she was having trouble breathing and they were just explaining to me that she had to be put on a ventilator. And she was getting worse, and she was confused by everything, and I’m trying to talk to her about everything and encourage and stay positive, just talk through everything with her.”
He continued, “She’s been in a medically induced coma. Since that day, I haven’t talked to her, haven’t been able to obviously communicate with her,” Towns said. “I’ve just been getting updates on her condition. It’s rough, and day by day we’re just seeing how it goes. We’re being positive; I’m being very positive.”
Since making his shocking admission, friends, fans, and players alike have offered words of encouragement to the 24-year-old.
Earlier this month, Towns donated $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic to help increase the number of tests that it could administer daily from 200 to 1,000. And in light of his mother’s diagnosis, the two-time NBA All-Star remains committed to ensuring that everyone understands the severity of this ongoing pandemic.
“This disease needs to not be taken lightly. Please protect your families, your loved ones, your friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. Please don’t be in places with a lot of people. […] It’s deadly. And we’re going to keep fighting on my side, me and my family, we’re going to keep fighting this. We’re going to beat it. We’re going to win.”
National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said she was “disappointed” in the criticism NBA teams and players have gotten for receiving access to COVID-19 tests and sounded off on who she believes is responsible for the scarcity of public tests in America: the federal government.
“There’s nothing irresponsible — if you’ve got that information [that you’ve been exposed] — about trying to get the tests,” Roberts told ESPN on Wednesday.
“The problem that more of us can’t get the tests — and I’m not apologetic about saying it — in my view, that rests at the foot of the federal government. They were responsible for making sure we were protected in that regard, and I think they failed.
“We shouldn’t be fighting about this now … but once this is done and we get through it, and we will, let’s figure out who screwed up and fix that.”
The Brooklyn Nets disclosed Tuesday that four of their players had tested positive for the virus. The Nets had not recently played the Jazz or Detroit Pistons (who have since confirmed a player tested positive) so it was not immediately clear why the Nets had all been tested.
The Nets said in a statement Wednesday that several players and staff were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, prompting the team’s traveling party to get tested for the coronavirus. The Nets said they “sourced the tests through a private company and paid for them ourselves because we did not want to impact access to [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]’s public resources.”
De Blasio blasted the team on Twitter and suggested NBA players were being given preferential treatment because they were rich and had access to better health care than the general population, where there has been frustration over testing protocols and availability.
“We wish them a speedy recovery,” de Blasio said in his tweet. “But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested. Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”
Roberts said she understood the criticism but reiterated her criticism of how the government has handled the crisis.
“I get it,” Roberts said. “People should not be having to wait in line. The at-risk population should be the first to be tested. But god damn it, if the government had done what they were supposed to do, we wouldn’t be competing for an opportunity to be tested.”
Roberts said that public health officials have expressed concern about infected NBA players exposing others to the virus because of the high number of players they come in contact with and how much they travel.
“We were doing games where tens of thousands of people were coming into our arenas. We were exposing potentially a lot of people to being infected,” Roberts said. “I get it. If you’re 65 years old — I’m 64 — and you’re symptomatic and want to get tested, it must be difficult to hear about some young’uns getting tested. I get that. And the players get that. But to the extent that there was some effort to find out just how pervasive our infection was so that people would know.
“To be perfectly candid with you, if I was at the arena in OKC when the announcement was made, when the game was canceled, I would be concerned.
“In many ways, I think it would have been irresponsible for the teams not to test their players and staffers because people in that arena have the right to know if they’d been exposed.”
Roberts said she has advised her players to report any symptoms of the virus to team officials if they come up. She is actively discouraging any stigma from being attached to players who might test positive.
“I’m distressed if any player is distressed about having his name out there,” she said. “There is no stigma attached to testing positive for coronavirus. I’m probably positive for coronavirus if I’m tested. Most of us will. I’m now hearing 50% of the population is probably going to be infected. We need to stop being concerned about there being some stigma about being infected — ‘Oh my God, he’s got the ‘rona.’
“That’s nonsense to worry about that. We need to worry about how we can contain it. My message to the players is, ‘Don’t for one second be embarrassed about it. There’s nothing embarrassing about it. This is not something that suggests you’ve done anything wrong. If you have it, now you know you need to be more careful in terms of your interactions.'”
The Nets announced Tuesday that four players had tested positive for the virus, though they did not identify any by name. Three of the four Nets players who tested positive are asymptomatic, the team said. They are each in isolation and under the care of physicians.
The players were tested when the team returned home from San Francisco, where they were scheduled to play the Warriors when the NBA suspended play. The team reportedly paid out of pocket to conduct tests.
On Thursday, 58 people in Oklahoma ― a group of Utah Jazz players, coaching staff and local journalists ― were tested for the virus. Only one other person, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, was found to have the virus. The Daily Beast was the first to ask how the NBA was able to get its hands on so many tests amid a widespread shortage:
A powerful, wealthy pro sports league flexed the political capital and financial might required to get government officials to spring into action. The unintentional byproduct, though, is another, equally jarring number: 7,617 people in total have been tested for the virus by state labs as of Thursday, and those 58 tests, or a staggering .8 percent, were conducted on employees of one professional basketball team.
Oklahoma Health Commissioner Gary Cox said Thursday that the state currently has the “capacity to run about 100 tests a day.” That means those associated with the NBA got roughly 60 percent of the state’s daily testing, The Daily Beast noted.
There are currently two known active cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma, but that number is expected to go up. Representatives for the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma Department of Health did not immediately respond to questions from HuffPost.