COVID-19 forces athletes and spectators to find alternatives

By Emily Chandler

If there was ever a moment in time without sport, that time is now.

On March 11, the NBA suspended the 2019-2020 season indefinitely after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. Other major league sports soon followed by suspending their seasons including the NFL, NHL, and the MLB. Athletes, coaches, officials and spectators were forced to quickly adapt to exist without athletics.

Red River College graduate Gus Gottfred looks forward to coming home and watching sports after work to relax and unwind for the evening. He says with the sudden end of his favourite sports, he doesn’t know what might fill that void for him.

“I don’t like watching replays of old games when I already know the result,” said Gottfred. “It just doesn’t interest me.”

Outside of his full-time job, Gottfred takes statistics for the Manitoba Moose as a part-time job and passion project. He wasn’t surprised when the league suspended the season, but he knew it was the right call.

“Sports will come back, but life is so much more boring,” said the 24-year-old.

Professional sports have changed significantly since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, from playing games without audiences to outright cancelling or suspending events and leagues.

Manitoba Moose defenceman Nelson Nogier said it’s strange to be leaving Winnipeg earlier than he expected. The 23-year-old has played hockey for 18 years and has never experienced anything like this.

Nogier returned home to Saskatoon when his season was suspended and plans to relax with his family and workout during his time off.

“It has been a huge adjustment to get used to,” said Nogier, who has skated in 11 NHL games with the Winnipeg Jets. “But the actual ‘no sports’ aspect hasn’t hit me yet.”

As a professional hockey player, Nogier only attends a sporting event when he plays and says adjusting as a spectator hasn’t been as easy as he thought.

“I don’t watch much other than sports on TV, so to say I miss sports is an understatement.”

Winnipeg local Shyan Elias plays hockey at the University of Saskatchewan but has returned home because of the outbreak. She is taking this time without sports to stay motivated by working out and staying active.

The 23-year-old said she has been exploring different workouts through organized gyms and influencers on Instagram.

“It’s cool to see many local and well-known organizations host free workouts online to keep people active and moving during this time,” said Elias.

Elias is participating in online workouts offered by F45, Community Gym, and Modo Yoga. She and her friends have been scheduling workouts through the streaming service Zoom to hold each other accountable while still having fun.

“It has a similar atmosphere as a team would,” she said. “But it is hilarious watching your friends struggle doing burpees.”

So far hundreds of games across dozens of leagues in North America have been cancelled due to COVID-19.