Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer released a joint statement Monday (March 9, 2020) about the organizations' preventative strategies surrounding coronavirus. Teams will close locker rooms and clubhouses to media and non-essential personnel.
Earned media will continue, though. Media access will take place in locations separate from the players' spaces. MLB and the NBA will conduct press conferences with the CDC-recommended six-foot barrier between players and media.
Meanwhile, with March Madness on the horizon, the Ivy League announced the cancellation of its basketball tournament for men and women. The tournaments were to begin this weekend in Boston.
Instead of having four teams compete for the right to go dancing in March, the regular season's first-place teams will advance.
Communicators take note: the Ivy's message was crafted well. The tone was correct as it apologized to fans and players. Still, its content was blasted in some quarters as inconsistent. Groups of fans and coaches are upset since tournaments and games in other college sports are continuing. Those games also could be cancelled, though no official word was given.
In addition, the Ivy League said all out-of-season practices and activities are cancelled and other on-campus sports will employ "highly-restrictive, in-venue spectator limitations."
Plans call for March Madness to begin March 17, though Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) called today for indoor sporting events in his state to limit or eliminate spectators. DeWine recommended that parents and "essential personnel" only gain entrance to March Madness games in Ohio.
Pro Sports Keep Going
So far no professional sports contests inside the US have been cancelled, or been played without fans. In fact, last Saturday, March 7, 2020, Seattle's MLS team, the Sounders, played a home match that 30,000 fans attended. The team took precautions and urged elderly fans to stay home. Washington is the U.S. epicenter of the virus.
This is in contrast with South Korea and China, where exhibition baseball games are being played to empty stadiums. Italy’s Serie A premier soccer league suspended its season.
Below is the joint statement about the locker room closures:
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting."
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