Possible Impacts On Sports With Coronavirus Virus Cases

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

With the number of coronavirus cases increasing there is also a watch and cautious approach that could impact sports in New York. Already major sporting events have been suspended or closed to the public in Europe and Japan.

Of the major professional sports leagues, the National Hockey League has implemented a change in policy with teams having the discretion to close locker rooms to media covering the Rangers and Islanders.

Other teams in the NHL are reportedly looking at a similar policy. The National Basketball Association is monitoring the situation as cases of the virus are increasing on a daily basis. 

 Major League Baseball, with Opening Day games approaching in 17 days, is also evaluating a plan regarding media access to players. Fans will not be permitted to hand a baseball or pen to players when seeking an autograph prior to game time or where they can gain access.

The Bronx Chronicle reached out to officials from the Mets, Yankees, and MLB and did not receive a response as to any contingency plans that could disrupt the start of the 2020 season.

The Mets home opener is Thursday March 26 at Citi Field. The Yankees open their season at Camden Yards with the Baltimore Orioles.

Fordham University has suspended classes at the Bronx Rose Hill campus until further notice. 

Wednesday,, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the opening rounds of the Atlantic-10 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament begins. Fordham has a first round game scheduled for 3:30 against George Washington.

A-10 officials said the tournament will go on as planned and fans will be allowed access. Hand sanitizers will be available for distribution. Though student-athletes, as has always been with NCAA policy, will be available for post game media in the Barclays Center press conference room and on a podium with coaches.

Also this week, NYCFC opens their MLS home season Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. MLS officials were not available for comment about changing policies for media locker room access. 

Though, one source said, the league is also monitoring the situation and will provide updates as needed.

Public and catholic school sports events are still scheduled. The PSAL and CHSAA were also not available for comment with basketball playoffs currently taking place.

Top Rank, a major boxing promotion, has two cards scheduled in four days at the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theatre this Saturday evening and St. Patrick’s night next Wednesday. Both boxing events are scheduled to go on as planned and plenty of hand sanitizers will be on site.

From a media perspective all of this could have an impact. If events are cancelled that speaks for itself.

However, if business goes on as usual, there could be implications of getting that access to players and coaches. With leagues monitoring the number of cases there is that precaution and that is expected.

A major part of the job, baseball in particular, is getting that one-on-one with a player before or after a game in the home and visiting clubhouses.  Instead, a standard press conference interview with players on a podium would be a precautionary procedure. As of now, no changes but again there is that likely possibility of changes due to the virus.

The main thing here is precaution. Be careful. As they say, wash your hands and avoid touching your face. And, as every crisis has shown, this will pass. 

Thinking, though, that sports has always been a diversion from the daily grind and bad news. 

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