Updated March 13 at 4 p.m.
On Friday, state and local officials announced that the Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20, will be postponed until Sept. 14, adding to the list of sporting events that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first time in the marathon's 124-year history that the race has been delayed.
Northeastern's women's hockey team was focused during a week of uncertainty in the world of sports because of the spreading novel coronavirus.
After the NCAA announced its championship events would have only essential staff and limited family attendance, the situation was fluid as the team hosted a media availability on Wednesday ahead of its NCAA tournament game against Princeton on Saturday. Head Coach Dave Flint tried to have his team's mind on the task at hand.
"You know, I just told the team, I said, 'Listen, let's just focus on hockey, focus on what we can control and whatever happens, happens," Flint said. "But we need to prepare for Saturday like we're playing.' So, that's what we're doing."
Players also had to deal with the university shifting courses online to try to curtail the spreading of the virus.
"Obviously, we're student-athletes, so we still have to do well in school and think about school, but obviously with how big our game is on Saturday, we're just trying to keep our minds how they have been all year and just stay focused on the game," said senior Paige Capistran. "And when we're at the rink, we're focusing on hockey."
But that's when the game was still scheduled to go on. On Thursday, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring championships.
It was just the latest domino to fall.
Over the course of this week, sporting events on every level were postponed or canceled entirely, taking away much needed entertainment during a time of national anxiety.
On Wednesday night, the NBA announced it is suspending games until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. Since that announcement, another Jazz player also tested positive for the coronavirus. NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement late Thursday night saying the hiatus will last at least 30 days and the NBA intends to resume the season "if and when it becomes safe for all concerned."
It was a call that sent shock waves through the league. When the decision came down, the Celtics were on the road to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday and were scheduled to be back at TD Garden Friday against the Washington Wizards.
Before the announcement had been made, Celtics star Jaylen Brown had gone on Instagram to urge people to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously.
"I want just people to have the awareness of what's going on that this isn't just a joke, this isn't a conspiracy theory," he said on Instagram. "Like, this is for real."
The Celtics played the Jazz at home on March 6. The day after the league's announcement, the team released a statement saying that all players and staff who were in close contact with the Jazz players last Friday or traveled to Milwaukee this week for Boston's game against the Bucks will self-quarantine through the weekend.
During that time, all Celtics players will be tested, as well as staff who came into close contact with the Utah players or exhibit symptoms.
The statement pointed out that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has advised the Celtics that it is unlikely that anyone from the team came into contact with the Utah players while they were contagious and that the team was exercising an abundance of caution.
"The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. "However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus — and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point — it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said in a statement: "Today’s news is difficult to process for our team, our staff, our city and our fans everywhere. As players, we love being able to compete and feed off the passion of our fans, but we understand that this challenge facing our world is much bigger than sports. We fully respect the NHL’s decision today and wish everyone good health until we can once again come together to celebrate the game we love."
Also on Thursday, Major League Baseball announced spring training games would be suspended and the start of the 2020 season would be delayed at least two weeks.
“The health and safety of our fans, players and employees is of paramount importance. We thank them for their patience and support during this unprecedented time," the Red Sox said in a statement. "We support Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend spring training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season. Effective immediately, all Fenway Park and JetBlue Park tours and events are suspended until further notice. We hope our fans and everyone across the country remain safe as we all work together through this challenging time.”
In the National Women's Hockey League, the Boston Pride were scheduled to play in the Isobel Cup Final on Friday at Warrior Ice Arena against the Minnesota Whitecaps, but the league postponed that game.
Pride President Hayley Moore said the team was involved with the league in discussions about pushing the game back.
"We didn't feel comfortable moving forward with putting the Whitecaps on the plane to fly out here, and just want to make sure that we're able to provide the safest environment possible and give the fans and the players the game that they deserve," Moore said.
Victor Matheson, a professor at Holy Cross who researches sports economics, said there have been changes like this in the past: the Stanley Cup Final got canceled in 1919 due to the Spanish flu outbreak. The SARS outbreak in 2003 forced the Women's World Cup to be moved from China to the United States.
"So we've certainly seen things like this before, we've just never seen anything like this at the scale we're seeing now," Matheson said.
He admitted that postponement and cancellations of games and events will be hits financially for leagues and organizations.
But that's not who will be most impacted.
"Where the real issues probably are gonna be most acutely felt is the folks who are the ticket takers and the ushers and the concession workers," he said. "LeBron James is not happy about potentially not being able to get one more NBA championship under his belt, but that's a whole lot different than the regular worker who is counting on this to be able to make rent and buy groceries."