COVID makes it ‘The Longest Year’ for sports

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably seen the movie The Longest Yard.

If 2020 was a movie, it would be The Longest Year.

Sports fans have felt empty all year as such huge events as March Madness have been canceled. Other seasons, like baseball, basketball and hockey, have been shortened. And many of those events, plus most NFL games, have been played without any fans.

The year started off like usual with the crowning of a national champion in college football as LSU beat defending champ Clemson 42-25 behind Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow, who ended up being drafted first by the Bengals.

NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others died in a helicopter crash, shocking the world.

The Kansas City Chiefs came from behind scoring 21 points in the final half of the fourth quarter to win the Super Bowl 31-20 over the 49ers.

The Seattle Seahawks had a strong year going 11-5, placing second in the division. In the playoffs they beat the Eagles 17-9, but then lost to the Packers 28-23. Linebacker Bobby Wagner was first team and quarterback Russell Wilson second team All Pro.

Then COVID-19 struck the world and in sports first the NBA. The season was put on hold after Rudy Gobert tested positive.

In more shocking news, then the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was canceled, and the 2020 Summer Games in Toyko were postponed a year.

But that was just the start. The world’s biggest tennis tournament, Wimbledon, was canceled, as was golf’s famous U.S. Open, while the Master’s was moved to November, with Dustin Johnson earning the green jacket.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and NASCAR all delayed their seasons.

The NFL Draft took place, but in a new format – all online.

The NBA resumed its season in July, but games were played in the “bubble” without fans at Disney World. The Lakers, with Lebron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, won the title against Miami.

The NHL also played in a bubble in Canada at Toronto and Edmonton after their season was delayed for months. Yet two southern U.S. teams met in the Stanley Cup final with Tampa Bay beating the Dallas Stars.

MLB also returned in late July, but they played just 60 games, all within their geographic region. The Los Angeles Dodgers beat Tampa Bay in the World Series with Corey Seager, brother of Kyle of the Mariners, the MVP.

Speaking of the M’s, they had another disappointing year, not even making the expanded playoffs. But outfielder Kyle Lewis did win Rookie of the Year honors.

Seattle did bring home one title this year, even though the Storm never got to play a home game. The WNBA played all its games in a bubble. With MVP Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird back from injuries last year, the Seattle Storm beat Las Vegas for the crown.

When it was time for the NFL to start back up again, it decided to cancel preseason games to limit coronavirus exposure. A few games were delayed when players tested positive for COVID-19.

The Seahawks started the year 5-0 and there was talk of the MVP finally coming to longtime Seattle star Wilson. But then he hit a stretch of turnovers and the team struggled. But it ended the year on a high note, beating the Rams to claim the division for the first time in years.

But Kansas City and Green Bay seemed to be the teams to beat as the year ended.

The college football season was even less predictable, with some leagues starting months before others. The Pac-12 got the latest start and some of their games were canceled due to not enough players because of COVID restrictions. Some teams only played a handful of games. The Huskies were 3-1 but couldn’t play in the league’s title game against Southern Cal due to COVID. UW decided not to play in a bowl game, also due to the coronavirus. As the year ended Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame were fighting it out for the national championship.

Seattle almost won another title, but the Sounders lost the Major League Soccer crown 3-0 to Columbus Crew.

At the end of the year it was the Seattle Seahawks defense that led them to the playoffs.