It’s put professional seasons on hold, and wiped out NCAA tournaments and entire spring seasons.
It’s forced the postponement of multiple rites of spring, such as the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, and Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, and on Tuesday it pushed the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo back a year.
It’s left high school state championships in limbo, and has the potential to force the cancellation of every prep sports season on the spring docket throughout the country.
The coronavirus has also pushed back Little League opening days and, like just about everything sports related, has put whole seasons in jeopardy.
“Right now, it’s to be determined,” Easton Little League President Cory Fink said of the start of the season. “Our board has suspended all league activities, including practices, and obviously games, opening day, as we continue to get feedback and information from the local government, state government, federal and guidance from Little League International.”
Stephen Keener, president and CEO of Little League International, wrote in a letter to Little League administrators, coaches and volunteers: “With the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Little League International Board of Directors and staff is now strongly advising all its local Little League programs to suspend/delay their Little League seasons through no earlier than Monday, May 11.
“We recognize that this is the heart of the traditional Little League season, and we share in the great disappointment that many are feeling, surrounding this additional pause in the 2020 season,” Keener continued in his letter. “However, it is our hope that by doing this, we will all play a small, but important part in flattening the curve in the spread of the coronavirus.”
Easton and Cambridge Little Leagues were originally scheduled to begin play April 4. Cambridge league president Steve Twilley said his board was already acting before Keener’s letter.
“Soon as we started getting word from local state officials that schools were canceled (starting March 16) we kind of followed their guidance and went from there; before even Little League came out with anything we pushed everything back,” said Twilley, whose league includes 17 teams between baseball and softball, ranging from Little League to Senior League. “I think it goes without saying everybody is disappointed. It’s something everybody likes to get into and enjoy being out at the park.”
Like high school and college seniors, Fink noted one of the greater disappointments from the virus-induced postponements and cancellations is this is the last chance many area players will have to try and earn a trip to Williamsport, Pa., site of the Little League World Series.
“As a 10-, 11-, 12-year-old you’re shooting for, obviously the love of the game, but district all-stars, and your one golden opportunity to possibly make it to Williamsport,” Fink said. “All that’s eliminated once you have your league age-12 year.
“For these kids, much like your high school seniors or your college seniors, who potentially are not going to have that opportunity to have that last season, that pulls on the emotional heart strings if you will, of everybody,” Fink continued. “And I don’t even have kids in that division any more. But as a league president you can feel for them.”
Jason Orrell, president of Talbot Softball, said he spoke with a representative of Little League International recently and was told if the seasons do get started, there may be alterations.
“I guess nothing’s off the table because this is an unprecedented event,” Orrell said. “I haven’t spoke to Little League (in a few days), but they’re in the same boat we’re in. They don’t know what direction to go in. It’s kind of a wait and see."