The coronavirus has brought the sports world to an unprecedented standstill, nationally, internationally and locally.
Among the implications for Lancaster County teams, athletes, leagues and fans, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has postponed its boys and girls basketball state championship tournaments for a minimum of two weeks.
The Lancaster Catholic boys and Lancaster Catholic, Linden Hall and Northern Lebanon girls’ teams have reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in their respective classes.
"It was sort of expected,'' Lancaster Catholic boys' basketball coach Joe Klazas said Thursday. "You can't blame anyone. The NCAA is going to do it. The NBA is going to to it. It's necessary.''
The PIAA has also postponed the Class 2A swimming and Diving Championships for two weeks. Class 3A swimming and diving were completed Thursday at Bucknell University.
The decision will, “allow schools time to perform self-assessments and make decisions to promote optimal health conditions in their communities,’’ according to a statement released by the PIAA on Thursday.
Spring high school sports have not yet been affected. Lancaster County high schools remain open, and spring sports practices are being held. Boys tennis is already underway, and regular season schedules for the remaining spring sports are scheduled to begin March 20.
The PIAA Sports Medicine Committee will meet this weekend for further discussion. Further changes to tournaments could include limiting team and spectator parties, health recertification by authorized medical professionals and changes to game-day procedures.
“Direction to competing schools will be provided over the coming days in consultation with school administrators, local, state health and governmental authorities,’’ according to the statement.
“The Board of Directors are committed to promoting an environment of healthy athletic competition that is consistent with current health department and the Center for the Disease Control guidelines,” said PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi.
Also Thursday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced it is cancelling all national championship events in spring and winter sports, including the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities," the NCAA said in a statement.
Whether college conferences or individual schools will opt to continue their spring sports’ regular seasons, which are already underway, is unknown.
Ethan Hulsey, Millersville University’s Director of Athletic Communications, said he expects the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference to make a decision on regular-season play Friday morning.
As it is, Millersville is holding no events on campus from March 14 through April 4.
Before the NCAA announcement, Franklin & Marshall College had cancelled all its away athletic events, including spring break trips, as of Thursday. Home events were planned to take place through March 22 without spectators. All contests from March 23 through April 6 are postponed.
Out-of-season practices and club team practices/competitions are canceled from now until April 6.
Elizabethtown College’s athletic league, the Landmark Conference, has cancelled all athletic events through April 8.
Penn State University announced Thursday it is cancelling all intercollegiate athletics through the end of the current academic year, in May.
"As heartbreaking as this is for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, it is clear that the decision to suspend competition and focus on this worldwide health crisis is the only responsible action,'' athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement.
This includes the annual Blue-White intrasquad football scrimmage, scheduled for April 18.
Among other events, the New Balance Nationals Indoor Track and Field Championships for high school athletes, scheduled for Friday through Sunday in New York City and involving a number of local high school athletes, has been canceled.
The Irish Rumble, a major volleyball tournament for high school-age travel teams, has been canceled. The tournament was scheduled for this weekend at Spooky Nook Sports complex.
The cancellation was the decision of USA Volleyball, the sport’s American governing body, which is holding no events at least until March 22.
The event would have occupied most of Spooky Nook’s huge facility and 4,000 to 5,000 local hotels rooms, according to Spooky Nook marketing manager Mackenzie Bender.
Spooky Nook is otherwise operating as normal.
“If we were to shut down, the impact on the local economy would be significant,’’ Bender said. “We will continue to educate our guests and employees on everyday health practices.’’