What effect will the coronavirus have on sports? | Daily News


What effect will the coronavirus have on sports?

The world today is so full of uncertainties that you never know what’s going to happen next. The coronavirus outbreak that has caused all major sports tournaments across the globe to be suspended indefinitely or being played behind closed doors is certainly going to have its repercussions. Sports it seems has taken one of the largest hits from the outbreak.

This outbreak is something that the sports world least expected to happen, but it has happened and taken everyone by surprise that the disruptions this massive has not been caused since World War II. During that time people witnessed the World Cup soccer, Olympics and all global sports competitions cancelled.

Sporting events we thought we could never live without have been postponed.

In the past week sports enthusiasts have witnessed the gradual decrease of their favourite games, like cricket, football, rugby, tennis, athletics etc suffering a total shut down both locally and internationally.

Almost all major events have been cancelled as governments from around the world ramp up their efforts to stop the pandemic.

The last time major sports activities came to a halt globally dates back to 1939 during the outbreak of the Second World War.

Warfare History Network reports:

“World War II disrupted the lives of millions of people around the globe: fuel rationing, food rationing, shortages of all kinds, and, of course, the death and destruction that was visited on cities, nations, and whole populations.

In two areas—sports and entertainment—all the combatant countries tried to maintain at least a semblance of normality in order to keep up civilian morale. It was anything but easy.

“In the United States during the 1930s and 40s, the major spectator sports were boxing, horse racing, major league baseball, and college football; although the National Football League started (as the American Professional Football Association) in 1920, it had not yet become America’s favorite athletic entertainment, and professional basketball was still decades away from achieving the popularity it enjoys today.

“Boxing was hugely popular, especially after Joe Louis won a rematch and regained the world heavyweight championship against German Max Schmeling in 1938. (As an aside, Louis was later drafted and spent the war with the USO giving boxing exhibitions at bases around the country, while Schmeling joined the German paratroops and participated as a member of a mortar company in the 1941 invasion of Crete.)

“In one sense, America was lucky. Its cities did not come under enemy attack. The same could not be said for the other major combatant nations—Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia, Italy, and others. In the large cities of these and other countries, football (i.e., soccer) stadia were often located in urban centers or close to industrial areas and thus became inadvertent targets.

“In England, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and the British and French declared war on Germany, the English Football Association (or FA, the governing body of English soccer), canceled the rest of the season after only three games because of a ban on the assembly of large crowds. With immediate conscription, young Englishmen, including professional soccer players, were drafted into military service. And, with the season canceled indefinitely, the clubs ceased operations, bringing howls of protests from the fans.

“To appease the fans, the FA relented and created seven regional leagues that provided some competition without placing undue strain on the nation’s railroad service that was needed to move troops and military goods (the government had imposed a 50-mile traveling limit).

“But, because of fears of German bombing, the number of fans allowed to attend each game was limited to just 8,000. The government soon realized, as one historian wrote, that football “was good for morale and served the purpose of trying to keep life as normal as possible under the difficult circumstances. Gradually these attendance limitations were lifted, especially after the daytime bombings had stopped.”

“Tom Finney, who played for Preston North End, was one of England’s best known footballers. He noted, “Wartime football was no substitute for the real thing but it did serve a purpose. There were restrictions galore and most clubs found their squads decimated through call-ups into the armed services, but the public passion for football won through.

“Sometimes matches were in doubt right up to kick-off as clubs tried desperately to recruit some guest players but, when the action rolled, it was good. Football provided the country with some much-needed escapism and, speaking as a player, it was thoroughly enjoyable—despite the bombs. After we had lost 2-0 at Anfield, our coach-ride home was caught up in an air-raid on Merseyside and that was a frightening experience by any standards.”

‘After the Luftwaffe’s first bombing raid on London, July 10, 1940, many historic English stadia were damaged or destroyed by German aerial bombing. After one 1940 raid, an unexploded bomb was found lodged in the stands at Stamford Bridge, home to the London club Chelsea. The bomb disposal unit was called, but they told the club there were hundreds of other unexploded bombs to deal with across London that had greater priority, so the team’s manager (head coach) Billy Birrell defused it himself.

“Old Trafford, the famous Manchester United stadium, had its main grandstand destroyed in a 1941 Luftwaffe raid; the team played the rest of its home games until 1949 at the stadium of its arch rival, Manchester City.

“Arsenal’s Highbury stadium, too, was badly damaged, forcing the Gunners to play their home matches at White Hart Lane—the home of their London rival, Tottenham Hotspur. The east grandstand at White Hart Lane was used as a temporary morgue for victims of the London Blitz. Aston Villa in Birmingham had its stadium commandeered by the Army, and thus the team was unable to play until 1942. London’s huge Wembley Stadium, too, was hit and damaged in 1944.

“Many other stadia throughout England suffered extensive damage during air raids, including Sunderland, Hartlepool, Sheffield United, Southampton, Bristol City, Leicester City, and Plymouth Argyle, to name but a few. One Plymouth Argyle fan said, “There were some pretty angry football supporters ready to lynch Adolf Hitler for ordering the bombing of our football stadia if they could have caught him.”

But one event that has stood the test of times is the Royal-Thomian cricket encounter which has for the past 141 years despite the wars has continued uninterrupted to this day.

What is happening in the world is a global tragedy that is largely left out of our control. The virus has caused over 6000 deaths worldwide with almost 200,000 infections.

To what effect will the coronavirus have on sports? Only time will tell.

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