COLUMN: March Sadness is upon us, sports fans
LARAMIE -- Is this crazy or what?
In less than 24 hours, the entire sports world has ground to a halt. That includes the NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, the NCAA Tournament, nearly every spring sport in the country.
There will be no March Madness. "One shining moment" won't be played after a champion is crowned. Nets will remain intact.
That doesn't even include all the vendors, towns and average people that will be hurt as a result of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. We haven't even touched on Las Vegas, which will likely lose upward of $100 million with no college hoops in late March.
It's truly unbelievable.
The virus has even altered things in our neck of the woods.
No Cowboy grapplers will have a shot at winning a wrestling title. Wyoming won't be competing for a golf or swimming and diving championship. Tennis is over, too.
Imagine if the magical run the Pokes' basketball team went on resulted in a Mountain West title? It would've been all for naught.
"I want to apologize to all the students at Wyoming and elsewhere," UW Athletics Director Tom Burman Tweeted Thursday night. "Competing is such a privilege and to have it taken-away is painful. We need to believe that we are doing right and helping to prevent others from becoming ill."
Craig Bohl and his football players most likely will be affected by this, too.
Spring football was supposed to start Tuesday, March 24. Coming off an Arizona Bowl victory and returning a majority of their two-deep roster, excitement surrounding the program is at an all-time high.
"University of Wyoming Athletics has announced effective immediately that all athletics competitions will be suspended until further notice," the school stated in a release Thursday afternoon. "This includes all Mountain West Conference and non-conference events, home and away.
"There are other questions that cannot be answered at this time surrounding the rapidly changing situation. As future decisions are made, UW Athletics will share that information."
Most were eager to see what steps redshirt freshman quarterback Levi Williams was going to make this spring. Who will get the jump on replacing the school's all-time leading scorer Cooper Rothe? Which youngsters were going to attempt to fill the large void at linebacker left by Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia?
And what about Burman's coaching search? He is in the middle of looking for Allen Edwards' replacement. How will that be altered, if at all?
Those questions will just have to wait.
I was thinking today about how all of this reminds me so much of the aftermath of Sept. 11. From a sports standpoint only, of course. I was just 16 years old. I vividly remember Wyoming was set to travel to Lawrence, Kansas, to take on the Jayhawks the following Saturday.
I was going. No matter what, I was going.
I called the UW ticket office. I remember them telling me the game was still a go. I called KU. They were a little more hesitant about committing when the nation was in crisis.
Eventually, that game was cancelled. The two schools rescheduled for the week after the regular season. Wyoming lost 27-14, ending a forgettable 2-9 campaign.
President George W. Bush ultimately tossed out an emotional ceremonial first pitch at the World Series in New York City soon after and everything was right in the world of sports again.
This virus has left the future of all activities very much in doubt.
Schools are closed. Cruise ships are docked. Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, has also locked its gates. There will likely be plenty more closures, too, including Disney World, where my little sister is set to get married in less than two weeks.
In some way, this virus has touched us all.
Thursday, we saw the 3A-4A state basketball championships in Casper called. The Casper Star Tribune captured a photo of fans leaving the Events Center, popcorn and drinks in hand, snow falling from the sky. It was surreal.
Those kids on the court, by the way, were denied their shot at glory.
When I look at the positives, I think about Alijah Halliburton, Tyler Hall and eight other Cowboys seniors who were able to work out in front of 23 NFL scouts Tuesday in Laramie.
Think about all the draft-eligible football players -- especially the ones on the fringe -- who won't get an extra look from the decision makers. Their dreams are very much in question now, too.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 41 Americans have lost their lives to this virus so far. Globally, nearly 5,000 more. Wyoming has one confirmed case in Sheridan County. There are no additional details being made available by the Wyoming Department of Health.
This all seems so selfish, doesn't it? Worrying about sports? There are much bigger issues in the world than anything I described above.
But it just solidifies how important athletics are to our society as a whole.
For many of us, it's an escape. When we don't want to think about pandemics, wars, politics, crime and other day-to-day ills, we flip on the ball game. It's true reality television.
If just for a few hours, we can get lost in the game.
Now, most of us are just that -- lost.