As expected after the chaos of the past few days, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted sports in the state of Kansas.
On Thursday, the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference canceled all play from March 13 until at least April 1. Kansas State High School Activities Association canceled the remainder of the 2020 KSHSAA State Basketball Tournament following the conclusion of the quarterfinal round, which was supposed to conclude through the weekend. And the National Junior College Athletic Association has decided to “postpone national championship events for the upcoming DI and DII men’s and women’s basketball tournaments,” events that were supposed to start this upcoming week.
“This time will allow everyone to assess the current situation and plan accordingly,” KJCCC Commissioner Carl Heinrich said in a statement on the conference’s website. “Member colleges and the media will be kept updated through this time as we navigate through this.”
Trying to navigate as scheduled from the start of the year were the Neosho County Community College Panthers. As of right now, the baseball team is 11-6 after losing back-to-back games to Coffeyville Thursday on the road.
NCCC’s Lady Panthers softball team is sitting at 6-10 after splitting with Rose State on March 6 at home early on in the season.
For track and field, two NCCC athletes placed in the top 30 in the indoor nationals last week in Lynchburg, Va.
Neosho’s basketball teams culminated their seasons in the second round of the Region 6 KJCCC playoffs on Feb. 29 and March 1 in Dodge City.
“As a KJCCC institution, we will be in compliance with the decision made by the Commissioner and the Presidents Council. We will provide further updates as they become available,” NCCC said in a statement.
Several Kansas high school teams finished play in the first round of the 2020 KSHSAA State Basketball Tournament, and others fell in sub-state.
Erie High School (19-5) fell to Sterling High School (20-4) in the 2A first round in Manhattan on Thursday evening and Erie’s girls (15-8) stumbled in the sub-state championship game to St. Mary’s-Colgan (14-10) on March 7 in Yates Center. Both Chanute High School basketball teams lost in the first round of the 4A sub-state playoffs last week. The Lady Blue Comets (13-8) lost to Topeka-Hayden (10-14) at home on March 2, and the Blue Comets (7-14) were beat by Ottawa (16-7) on the road March 3. Humboldt High School’s teams lost in sub-state in Burlington, the boys (13-8) in the 3A first round to Osage City (10-12) on March 2, the girls (12-11) in the 3A second round to Anderson County (16-8) on March 6.
“After the conclusion of the quarterfinal round, the 2019 KSHSAA State Basketball Tournament will be canceled,” KHSAAA stated on its website. “Given the escalating concerns regarding COVID-19, the best decision for the safety of the student-athletes and spectators was to cancel the remainder of this championship tournament. The KSHSAA regrets the lost opportunity for teams and players that have worked to achieve their goals.”
For high school spring sports, the KSHSAA has left it up to the schools to make a determination.
“The KSHSAA has made no alterations to the spring sports season at this time,” KSHSAA noted in a statement. “Local school leaders are empowered to make the best decision for their respective student-athletes and school communities for regular season athletic practices and compeitions. ...”
As for NJCCC teams that advanced to nationals, Division III men’s and women’s basketball championships underway were played with an expedited schedule, which concluded Friday.
Division I men, Division I women, Division II men and Division II women were to start playing on Monday. But the NJCCC has now postponed championship basketball to a tentative start date of Monday, April 20, in Hutchinson.
“Due to the concerns surrounding the safety and security of our student-athletes and those involved with Division I and Division II NJCAA championships, we are postponing the tournaments and maintaining a fluid mentality to see these tournaments take place with a tentative start date,” NJCAA President and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said in a statement. “We have two main objectives in this situation – first and foremost is to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, college personnel and fans. Second is to make sure our student-athletes receive the national championship experience that they have worked so hard for.”
The NJCCC has also suspended all spring competition beginning today through Friday, April 3.
All of the cancellations and postponements in the sports world come on the heels of two NBA players, Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday — the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic that same day — which promptly led to the NBA suspending the league for at least 30 days.
Other sports leagues have followed suit. The NCAA has canceled both men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments, including March Madness, while the NHL, the PGA Tour and Augusta National have suspended activities until further notice. MLB spring training games are canceled and the season is delayed by at least two weeks, among myriad other sports and competitions around the world.
According to Business Insider as of March 13 at 11:43 am, there are more than 1,800 reported COVID-19 cases and 41 deaths in the US, and more than 140,000 cases around the world. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on Friday afternoon.