The recent pandemic has taken its toll on the United States, with the sports industry being no exception. In a campaign sparked by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the NBA and MLB have taken increasing steps towards the combat of COVID-19 and were eventually canceled outright.
Likewise, it should come as no surprise that the Northwest Athletic Conference has faced heavy setbacks as well. With Washington State being one of the first places to face the pandemic, the NWAC canceled their men’s and women’s basketball championships just a week after the virus hit Everett. The men’s tournament didn’t have a chance to get underway while the women’s had most of their first-round playoffs, featuring Bellevue advancing to the second round.
With the continued expansion of said virus, the spring season of NWAC sports was canceled, ending the golf, tennis, baseball, and softball seasons prematurely. This isn’t recent news either, with the first cancellations dating back to March 13.
With all the fuss surrounding the cancellation of professional sports, something that goes under the radar is the various problems college athletes are going to face moving forward. The college lifespan for an athlete is so much shorter than a potential professional career and having it cut short means so much more beyond turning it into a career. The sentiment is growing among college athletes that they lost out on their chance to finish their college careers playing the sport they love with people whom they consider family.
The NWAC approach to these issues is relatively straightforward and in-line with what the other collegiate conferences are pushing through. Functionally, this quarter didn’t happen for student athletes, with freshmen getting to return as freshmen and sophomores getting to return as sophomores next spring. That said, students need to maintain academic standards, with sophomores retaining their GPA and credit requirements.
Bellevue College Athletic Director Jeremy Eggers is taking the news and is working with his coaches to communicate with the athletes about their plans and options regarding such a drastic change in eligibility.
Another issue student athletes are facing is how scholarships come into effect. They’re granted money and tuition by virtue of their sports performances, and this isn’t addressed by the NWAC at all. Eggers was able to confirm that all student athletes will have their spring quarter scholarships awarded despite the cancellation of the season. Other than that, this unprecedented situation means a lot of college staff and students will inevitably be in a state of unease regarding the future.
Sports cancellations are a significant enough culture shift to remind people that this virus is bigger than any individual. Along with the seasons mentioned above, the UEFA canceled major soccer leagues in Europe, the Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since World War II, Formula One races are being postponed, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have an official date set up for 2021.