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Sports Suspended: From Pros To High School, MAC Tournament In Cleveland

Photo by Mid-American Conference
Photo by Mid-American Conference

Updated: 4:57 p.m., Thursday, March 12, 2020

Sporting events across the state of Ohio – from high school and college to professional sports of all kinds – are on hold or outright canceled as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) is postponing the girls’ state basketball tournament, state individual wrestling tournament, state ice hockey tournament and boys’ regional and state basketball tournaments.

No timetable has been determined for rescheduling the events, according to a Thursday press release. More information regarding ticket refunds is forthcoming, OHSAA said.

“We will use this time to work with the appropriate state authorities and health experts to determine our next steps moving forward,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in the release. “We realize this is disappointing for our participants and their fans, but the overall health and safety of everyone involved in our tournaments is our priority.”

OHSAA initially issued guidelines limiting the number of spectators at high school sporting events. Originally, the plan was to provide an online stream for fans and families to watch from home.

Events surrounding OHSAA regional and state tournaments for the next two weeks are also canceled, the association said, including presentations, halftime entertainment and merchandise sales.

College athletic conferences canceled basketball tournaments Thursday in the face of the potential spread of the coronavirus pandemic, including the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament in Cleveland, and professional sports announced precautions and cancellations of their own.

"How do I feel? Um, I don't even know how to answer that," said MAC Commissioner John Steinbrecher. "You know what, you're working the problem. You're working the issue. We're concerned with making sure we do everything possible to mitigate risk factors for our students and for our student athletes and for our fans and anyone interacting in and around our programs.

"We're disappointed about the fact that this event has been a pretty significant economic driver within this community and acknowledge that and, let's face it, we're going through an event right now that's going to cause interesting issues with regards to [revenue]," Steinbrecher said.

Players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the NBA's Utah Jazz have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

The Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Jazz at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 2. The NBA suspended the season late Wednesday on the news of the sick players.

"We go through an extensive sanitation process after every event," said Cavaliers and arena CEO Len Komoroski. "There were actually five events that occurred since the Jazz were in town prior to the Mid-American Conference coming here as well, so that process has been repeated."

All part-time arena workers will be compensated as if the MAC tournament had taken place, Komoroski said.

The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis, where Ohio State was scheduled to play Purdue Thursday night, was also cancelled.

"There were a lot of people telling me 'I don’t know' and I get concerned when I hear 'I don't know' a few too many times and I just want to make sure, I don't want have any regrets and I just want to make sure as a conference we do the right things," said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. "If something had gone awry here, I don't want to be in the position looking back saying 'Only if we would have done, you know, canceled this tournament' and I know we all love college athletics."

Just two college basketball conferences have yet to make a decision on canceling tournaments.

Major League Baseball suspended spring training and will delay Opening Day by at least two weeks, the league announced Thursday.

“We fully support today’s decision as the safety of our community, fans and our employees/uniformed staff is of the utmost importance,” the Indians said in a Thursday afternoon statement. “We will provide further details as soon as we have more clarity from MLB on the status of the start of our season.”

The National Hockey League has also suspended its season, as of Thursday night. The Columbus Blue Jackets were scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Penguins at home.

Glenn Forbes is supervising producer of newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.