Peripheral sports in danger during COVID-19


Illustration by Derrick “DJ” Reed.

2020 is a bad year for sports. It’s a bad year for anything other than “Call of Duty: Warzone” and Joe Exotic. But sports are especially taking a hit.

March Madness was days away when the NBA decided to postpone all games until further notice. Even the Olympics, which has been held every four years for the last 124 years, will not be on schedule. COVID-19 has put a stop to these major events, but it’s also hurting some less popular sports.

The XFL, Xtreme Football League, is Vince McMahon’s football league. Yes, the same McMahon who owned the WWE and got spanked on live television by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Unfortunately, these players cannot suplex each other on the field. After a poorly received single season in 2001, the XFL came back. Their re-debut 2020 season, premiering in between the NFL and college football seasons, gave many football fans their fix. Stadiums were packed, and after the first few weeks, fans stopped wearing their Texans jerseys and started showing up in official XFL merch. 

Despite the phenomenal beginning to their second first season, COVID-19 shutdowns took their toll. According to Kevin Seifert at ESPN, McMahon’s company filed for bankruptcy after laying off most of its workers. Unlike the NFL, XFL is still new. They don’t have the Dr. Evil amounts of money needed to stay above the water during an economic disaster. The NFL has had plenty of time to build up their own disaster relief fund. The XFL just didn’t have enough capital to stay in the black. 

Rugby is another sport, like football and basketball, that’s suffering because of coronavirus. It may not be very popular in the U.S., but across the globe, it’s huge. England, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand have some of the most popular rugby teams in the world. 

The New Zealand All Blacks are the certified best rugby team of all time, with an 89% win record for the last nine years. They have an intense cult following in New Zealand and abroad. The All Blacks aren’t doing so well right now, though. Their season hasn’t even started yet, and they’re already facing 50% pay cuts according to Reuters. Rugby leagues are not as mafia-esque as the NFL in America, so they don’t have the capability to pay their top players multi-million salaries. Guys like Aaron Smith don’t walk around like Brad Pitt when they’re off the field. They’re just sportsmen. Now, they’ll be making half their usual wages, and that’s if the season can start on schedule.

Oh yeah, and the NHL paused in March right before the playoffs. But who really cares about hockey? Joking aside, much like in college basketball, a ton of hockey fans are sour over their season getting ended prematurely, especially so close to the end.
This situation sucks all around. We can’t go outside, we can’t watch football and we can’t even look forward to the Olympics. Athletes are losing their jobs or getting pay cuts. Leagues are dissolving. 2020 is just a bad year for sports. But when the coronavirus fog lifts — whenever that may be — the fans will be ready.