Moments we will miss: What we lost in sports cancellations

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The outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has impacted sports across the world, causing mass postponements and cancellations. While the future is by no means set in stone and the real possibility exists of many of these competitions completing their interrupted seasons, The Daily Californian’s sports department takes a moment to remember the moments we have lost and the ones we may yet lose.

 

Nico Alba: I was looking forward to watching the Lakers and Clippers go at it in the playoffs. As someone from Los Angeles, I’ve been looking forward to the LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard battle for LA playoff series all year — two G.O.A.T.S. playing every game in the house that Kobe built. This would have been the first time the Lakers and Clippers faced off in the playoffs. Leonard’s clutch gene is mamba-like. His ability to take over in the fourth and score from anywhere is crazy. Meanwhile, the Lakers are led by a classic alpha duo. From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, to now Anthony Davis and LeBron, this has been the Lakers’ formula for decades. I don’t think we’ve seen peak Lakers yet. Or peak Clippers. I had Lakers in seven — Leonard drops 50+ in the final game, but Davis and Lebron prove to be too much. Lakeshow wins it all.

 

Lucas Perkins-Brown: The biggest blow to sports fans across the world is the conclusion that basketball as we know it looks to be over for the time being. March Madness and the NBA playoffs are probable goners, but what’s disappointing in this cruel situation is the sad end to Sabrina Ionescu’s senior season at Oregon. Becoming the first college basketball player ever to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists, Ionescu would likely lead the Ducks to a deep tournament run come April. Regardless if Oregon were to win its first women’s title in its program history, robbing Ionescu of her last chance to put it all out there in college uniform leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many admirers. Ionescu would have made great entertainment for fans in March, for men and women alike, as she would have carried her team throughout the tournament.

 

Eriko Yamakuma: I was especially looking forward to witnessing the further improvement of the Cal men’s gymnastics team I was covering and seeing them make a potential run to nationals. The rest of the season after the senior day meet, which turned out to be the last competition, would have been very exciting. They would have had their seventh meet with national champion Stanford last weekend, and challenge No. 3 Oklahoma for the second time the week after. In a recent interview, team captain Kyte Crigger talked about the team’s training for MPSF Championships in Colorado — he was looking forward to practicing and traveling with the team the rest of the season. It is unfortunate that the graduating seniors didn’t have a chance to finish their career in the way they wanted.

 

Emily Ohman: Spring just isn’t the same without baseball. It’s the quintessential warm-weather sport, signifying long summer nights, bluebird days and the possibility of sharing them with good friends. But ironically enough, and for as big as the baseball-shaped hole in my heart is right now, this unexpected break might be for the better for Cal baseball. Don’t get me wrong — freshmen like Keshawn Ogans and Nathan Martorella were just starting to make statements at the plate, and juniors Darren Baker and Quentin Selma were having the stellar seasons they were expected to have. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak the seniors on the team are feeling, despite the NCAA granting them an extra year of eligibility — especially since not all of them might elect to take it. But with the worst nonconference start of the century for the Bears, maybe a little time to reset will be in the team’s best interest in the long run. Baseball won’t be gone forever. And if it is, well, don’t text.

 

Kabir Rao: Since 2013, the Lakers have failed to make the playoffs. But this year was different. After Kobe Bryant’s death in late January, Lakers fans have been in a state of limbo. It felt like the only way we could try to move past our mourning was for the team to do what Kobe would have wanted: bring a championship to Los Angeles. Lebron and Co. seemed extra motivated. The King had just dismantled Giannis Antetokounmpo and Leonard in the same weekend and was shifting into playoff mode before our eyes. Even atop the West, the best was yet to come. And then, just as we were on the cusp of witnessing greatness and the most competitive playoffs in years, the season got suspended. Laker Nation was robbed of closure in a season when we needed it most. Now we’re left only to dream of what could have been.

 

Will Cooke: For 11 months of the year, I don’t look forward to my birthday, or Christmas or the Fourth of July. Selection Sunday is always circled in bright red ink on my calendar. I feel for every senior player whose career at their respective school came to an unceremonious end. But I also feel for the many fans — myself included — who look forward to next year’s tournament as soon as the final buzzer at each national championship game sounds. Because for many of us, who wins and who loses is insignificant. For us, March Madness means making a bracket challenge with friends and family members we rarely contact. It means bragging rights over your uncle for the next year — or vice versa, as is usually the case. The NCAA tournament is one of those rare sports events, like the Super Bowl and the World Cup final, that attracts everyone, fans and casual viewers alike. There’s something magical about sharing a game, a tournament, an experience with loved ones. At times like these, when a sense of community is paramount, we could all use a little March Madness in our lives.

 

Surina Khurana: Every year come March I’ll see people sneaking glances of college basketball games during lecture, or walk into a restaurant where eyes are peeled on TV screens or scroll through Twitter where there’s a flood of reactions and excitement. It’s truly amazing to see how people get so engrossed in the games, how people rally behind teams and how a community is built. Like Will, I will miss how the games bring together avid fans and casual viewers, but I find some comfort in knowing that the community that is built by March Madness is still together. People are feeling the pain of missing sports, but we are all feeling it together.

 

Ryan Chien: Swim, dive, water polo, rowing. It’s 2020, the Tokyo Summer Olympics are coming up and Cal’s sending a respectable amount of Olympians abroad. While the fate of the global sporting event remains uncertain, it’d be hard to imagine that it’ll be anywhere near the same. Crowds of fans will most certainly be taken out of the picture. Every Olympics marks the pinnacle of nationwide pride, an opportunity for young athletes to showcase themselves to the world. It’s a time of rejoice, bringing people together from all different ethnic backgrounds, both young and old. But now with social distancing in effect, that spark of unity will have to stay on hold. I’ll miss the opening ceremony where cheers roar across the shining stadium stage as each country’s flag is gradually raised. I’ll miss the chance to witness fellow undergraduate Bears compete against the likes of Japan, Great Britain and Russia while crowds rally in the background. I’ll miss watching an event without the group of people that makes it so exciting in the first place: the fans.

 

Mara Redican: This stoppage in the NHL season will not change the fact that the San Jose Sharks have almost no chance of making it to the playoffs. Hopefully seeing their name frozen in the last place spot for the Western Conference a few extra weeks will ignite the motivation for at least a small playoff run next season. Disappointment aside, if play would have continued as normal, I am certain the Sharks end on top of the Kings. In a perfect world, the Bruins would not have made it past the first round. Tampa Bay and Nashville would be strong competition, but Vegas and the Penguins would ultimately prevail. Vegas would sweep the Penguins, and Patrick Marleau would come running back to the Sharks.

 

Sarah Siegel: My heart goes out to all of the everyday folk who have made countless sacrifices to train for marathons that have now been postponed or altogether canceled. For most marathon runners, this is not a sport of glory. To train for a 26.2 mile race, you’re running hundreds of miles, often alone, while still keeping up with the daily demand of work, school or parenting. You lose toenails. Sometimes your body hurts so much you can’t even fall asleep at night. Crossing the finish line makes it worth it. Runners all over the world, including myself, have been left broken-hearted after these cancellations, including the postponement of the Boston Marathon. Although there are no races in the foreseeable future, we will all still be lacing up to enjoy miles of socially distanced solitude, falling back in love with the sport in its purest form. The simple joy of running may be all that we have left, but that is enough for me.

 

Mia Horne: Track and Field season met its end in an especially tragic way — right before the NCAA indoor championships, preventing Cal juniors McKay Johnson and Joshua Johnson from competing at the biggest meet of the indoor season. Track and field only made it through the indoor season before cancellations, but throwers McKay Johnson and Joshua Johnson brought Cal fans hope of securing at least one national title. McKay Johnson was No. 3 in the nation heading into the NCAA Indoor championships, and trends from previous indoor meets made it clear that he was due for another personal record. His top throw of the season was less than a meter away from No. 1 Andrew Liskowitz from Michigan. Josh Johnson qualified for nationals at the competitive MPSF Championships, climbing three spots from No. 16 to No. 13 in the country. It’s just a coincidence that two top throwers for the Bears share the same last name and both compete in shot put — they’re not related — but it could be that their shared last name brought momentum to their seasons, and would have brought even more momentum if the season didn’t end so soon.

 

Alex Lin: Are you kidding me? Stephen Curry only got to play one game after his return from his hand injury before the NBA was shut down? OK, fine, that can seem less important in times like these, but what about COVID-19 infecting so many star players and postponing the entire season? How am I supposed to argue with my friends over the better playoff team? There have been so many changes this year and it has finally made the NBA a little more exciting. Contenders have switched up quite a bit, just look at where the Warriors are currently. No one will be able to see the wild, wild Western Conference battle it out for the last few tickets to the playoffs anytime soon. Will the Grizzlies be able to hold onto their eighth seed position or will the young Pelicans or experienced Trail Blazers rise up and snatch it away? It’s all in the air for now.

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