Mar 11, 2021 - Sports

The sports shutdown of 2020: One year later

Rudy Gobert

Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

A year ago today, Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert returned a positive COVID-19 test, triggering the sports shutdown of 2020.

The backdrop: During the week prior, the U.S. had surpassed 100 cases (March 2), the world had surpassed 100,000 (March 6) and sports leagues had closed their locker rooms to media members.

  • On March 11, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, and by the end of the night the NBA had suspended play indefinitely.
  • By March's end every major sporting event — including the Tokyo Olympics — had been either postponed or canceled, and nothing but uncertainty lay ahead.
An empty hockey rink.
Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images


  • April: The NFL and WNBA held virtual drafts, the XFL filed for bankruptcy, and Professional Bull Riding beat everyone to the punch with a 140-person bubble event.
  • May: Starved for sports, this was the month the faucet really turned back on. UFC and NASCAR resumed, "The Last Dance" entertained, and a charity golf event provided a welcome reprieve.
  • June: Athletes spoke out following George Floyd's death, NASCAR drivers stood in solidarity with Bubba Wallace, the PGA Tour returned in Texas and the NWSL Challenge Cup kicked off in Utah.
  • July: The NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB all began or resumed their seasons, as we transitioned from the "No Sports Era" to the "No Fans Era."
Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
  • August: The NHL returned with a Canadian "double-bubble," while Big Ten parents protested the postponement of fall sports. On Aug. 26, sports came to a halt, marking a monumental day in American history.
  • September: The NFL kicked off its season, the Stanley Cup champion Lightning kicked off Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg's epic run of success, and Naomi Osaka won her second U.S. Open.
  • October: The West Coast completed the October sweep, with the Lakers winning the NBA title, the Dodgers winning the World Series and the Storm winning the WNBA title.
Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
  • December: The NBA returned, and the Ravens and Steelers played on a Wednesday — the seventh and final day of the week to feature an NFL game in 2020.
  • January: Nick Saban and Alabama won another national title, the NHL returned, and the NCAA announced plans for an Indiana bubble.
  • February: Tom Brady won another battle with time, Tiger Woods crashed his car, and the Australian Open provided a glimpse of normalcy.

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