NCAA

Penn Relays organizers cancel 2020 meet amidst coronavirus concerns

Penn Relays organizers cancel 2020 meet amidst coronavirus concerns

The University of Pennsylvania cancelled the 2020 Penn Relays on Monday amidst growing concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The event, which began in 1895, has run uninterrupted for 125 years, according to the school, and event organizers are looking to host a "substitute" track meet at a later date, potentially in May or June.

Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, Penn's Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, noted that the event wasn't interrupted by World Wars and previous global health issues, but hosting the Relays during the ongoing pandemic would put "participants, spectators, officials, volunteers, and staff at risk."

From Calhoun:

"This spirit of perseverance and resiliency will continue as we plan for a track meet later in the year when the health and safety of our community is more certain."

Penn said Monday that all ticket orders will, by default, be credited toward the 2021 Penn Relays, but refunds for the 2020 ticket sale price will be available by request. Ticket fees and order processing fees won't be refunded, according to the school.

If the school is able to plan a substitute track meet, Penn said, it would be a one-day event rather than the Penn Relays' normal three-day schedule.

Dave Johnson, the Director of the Penn Relays, said Monday that the event plans on returning for the 2021 iteration at Franklin Field.

Here's a full list of sports leagues and events that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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NCAA Selection Sunday turned Social Distancing Sunday

NCAA Selection Sunday turned Social Distancing Sunday

Today is supposed to be a day about dreams coming true. Today is supposed to be a day about hard work paying off. Today is supposed to be a day about why you signed that letter of intent as a 17-year old kid in high school. Unfortunately to no one’s fault, dreams have been cut short, the hard work has come to a stop, and no one will get their moment to shine. Today just won’t be the same.

Instead of Selection Sunday, it’ll be more like Social Distancing Sunday. Teams and student bodies won’t be hovered around televisions awaiting to hear their school name called by CBS’ Greg Gumbel. Teams and student bodies won’t be holding their breath hoping they’ve done enough to impress the selection committee to receive an invite to “The Dance”. We all know the Kansas’, Kentucky’s, and Duke’s of the world were locked into the field of 68.

Even around our neck of the woods it’s a mere formality for Jay Wright and his Villanova Wildcats to see their name on one of the brackets. No doubt it’s a shame those kids won’t get the chance to live out their dream while seniors had their college careers come to a screeching halt.  

However, my heart goes out to schools and fan bases like Penn State and Rutgers. The Nittany Lions were on their way to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011 while the last time the Scarlet Knights put their dancing shoes on, “The Silence of the Lambs” was the number one box office movie (1991). Today, silence will be the voice of the college basketball community. No euphoria for finally getting over that hump and proudly pumping your school’s name on your chest. I know the feeling of being a lesser known basketball program who earns the chance to be loud and proud.

I take you back to 2013. My school, La Salle University, had a fantastic regular season (21-9) including two wins in the same week against top-20 opponents. Then came Selection Sunday and what an agonizing hour I endured. Was their resume enough to punch their ticket? 66 teams announced. One matchup to go. When La Salle’s name was revealed, to say I was excited was an understatement. My kids had no idea why I was yelling and screaming in the house. La Salle made the First Four in Dayton and turned their invite into a trip to the Sweet 16. What a ride those couple of weeks were as I got to experience March Madness with a horse in the race.

Yes, basketball and all sports are secondary at this time. Family and health are the top priority while filling out brackets and block pools are simply an afterthought. The feeling of uncertainty is like a dark cloud hovering around all of us everyday. I just wish it didn’t wash away the dreams of the student athletes and their respective fans who don’t always experience that “One Shining Moment”.

March Madness fans might still get to fill out a 2020 NCAA tournament bracket

March Madness fans might still get to fill out a 2020 NCAA tournament bracket

March Madness, one of the great unifiers of sports fans from all over, was cancelled Thursday (see story) amidst growing concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. To fans, the news meant no brackets, no first-round upsets, and no One Shining Moment, mainstays of every March and April.

There might, however, be a very, very thin silver lining. The games won't be played, but the NCAA is at least considering releasing the 68-team bracket anyway.

NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports on Friday that the NCAA has received interest from coaches and athletic directors in the releasing of a bracket, despite the tournament's cancellation.

"There was some discussion about it; I'd say substantially," Gavitt said, per CBS, though he also mentioned that the idea is "practically speaking (...) a bit challenging at this moment."

Some coaches are likely pushing for a bracket release because of incentives in their contracts that reward them for making the NCAA tournament. Others probably want to reward their players for exceptional seasons.

Just look how broken up Jay Wright was yesterday (see story), thinking about his players not getting a shot at a title run:

I know that, on top of athletic departments and coaches, plenty of fans would also like to see the brackets unveiled. What if you're a Rutgers men's basketball fan, awaiting the possibility of your program's first berth since the 90s? Or if you're a Drexel women's basketball fan, eager to return to the big dance after winning your conference this season?

Brackets hold such a huge place in our collective sports conscience because we get to check them, one game at a time, in real time. The impact is significantly lessened by the games not being played. 

But that doesn't mean we wouldn't still enjoy filling them out - and taking advantage of no consequences to pick a truly, exceptionally weird bracket. Go wild: you can't get these picks wrong. It would encapsulate the spirit of March Madness, which is certainly better than nothing as we wait for life to return to normal.

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