Quit Stahl-ing: Cancel the games

Matt Stahl

Y’all read the headline. You can deduce where I’m going with this.

Many of you will cry and moan in the comments section about how this COVID-19 is just a bad flu and any inconveniencing of sports fans is an unfathomable evil.

As I’m writing this, the news just dropped about five minutes ago that the NBA season will be suspended indefinitely. The NCAA announced earlier today that its basketball tournament will take place with no fans.

Same with Conference USA, where the Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers are currently getting ready to play.

If you haven’t been following campus news, WKU has taken some major precautions as well.

Playing in front of nobody isn’t enough. You have to cancel. You have to cancel everything.

Yes, even the NCAA Tournament. You can’t have players and coaches flying from city to city, coming into contact with random people in times like this.

My whole life, sports have been one of my greatest joys — from playing, to writing for money, to watching, cheering, video gaming and arguing with my friends. Sports have served as an escape when things got tough and have taught me some valuable lessons along the way.

But we live in a society, and some things are bigger than sports. When the NBA news came out over the last hour, I wasn’t upset.

Am I nervous right now? Absolutely. I think anyone who has stayed relatively informed is at least a little bit nervous and I have no problem admitting it.

Some of my co-workers — scratch that, some of my friends — were covering an NBA game in Dallas when the news broke. I was nervous for their safety.

I have older relatives who aren’t in the best of health. I’m nervous for them too.

But even if you’re not even a little nervous, if you look at the facts, I think you’ll agree that the loss of the NCAA Tournament, which, I’ll give you, is one of the truly great sporting spectacles currently in existence, is a small price to pay to help stop a global pandemic.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t care at all about the millions of dollars that the NCAA, a corrupt and pointless organization that makes its money off the backs of unpaid labor, stands to lose if they don’t play the games.

There will be more sports. There will be more NBA. There will be more Marches for madness, even if it is really hard to see that right now. Cancelling the NCAA Tournament is the right thing to do, and the C-USA Tournament shouldn’t be playing any more games either.

For the “it’s just a bad flu,” crowd, you’ll live. Play some 2K. Take up painting. Read a book. Learn an instrument. Maybe look up some statistics on the COVID-19 virus from a source that isn’t a Facebook meme your great-uncle shared.

Things will get better. We probably won’t all be dead in a month when WKU’s campus opens back up. We’ll move on with our lives. That’s why we take preventative measures now. Not doing so could make this so much worse.

I’m going to be sad not watching sports for a while. But public safety and player safety are more important than me having an office conversation starter.

Sports Columnist and Projects Editor Matt Stahl can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Matt on Twitter at @mattstahl97.