R&B Spring Sports Editors

Sports editor Augusta Stone (center) and assistant sports editors Andy Walsh (left) and Austin Roper (right) lead The Red & Black sports desk despite the cancellation of all University of Georgia winter and spring sports seasons.

One week of COVID-19 developments placed the Georgia sports world on hold.

The Red & Black sports desk has reported breaking news of championship cancellations, season suspensions and practice delays throughout the past week. We watched as six days turned the SEC’s March 11 announcement of a month-long suspension on fan attendance into a full cancellation of Georgia sports for the 2019-20 athletic year on March 17.

Georgia sports coverage has changed right before our eyes. Game schedules became obsolete, and weekly availabilities with student-athletes and coaches were altered.

While traditional Georgia sports coverage is on hold for the time being, The Red & Black is going to continue writing. Stories are inevitably going to change, but we will be working on new pieces we can not wait to share.

With competitions canceled, the tried-and-true sports journalism method of previews, game recaps and time-sensitive stories would have to be altered. There aren’t any games or practices. There are barely any people on campus.

Concerns over the rapid spread of COVID-19 began unraveling the Georgia sports world right after the men’s basketball team defeated Ole Miss in round one of the SEC men’s basketball tournament. Late on March 11, the SEC announced it would hold all athletic events from March 12-30 with “only essential staff, limited family and credentialed media” present.

The SEC men’s basketball tournament was canceled before the Bulldogs could step on the court for their second round meeting with Florida on March 12. The NCAA canceled all winter and spring championships later that day, ending postseason hopes for gymnastics, baseball and softball, among other spring sports.

On March 13, the SEC suspended all competitions, championships, practices and team meetings through April 15. The decision ended winter sports, cut down on spring sports and delayed spring football practice, leaving the sports world in limbo.

Georgia baseball’s Cole Wilcox took to Twitter, asking the SEC for one more chance to suit up and play. After the cancellation of championships and plans to suspend competition, a full spring sports cancellation seemed inevitable.

On March 17, the SEC officially canceled all competitions and championships for the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year, ending all SEC spring seasons and canceling spring football games, including G-Day. As of press time, practices and team meetings may still resume after April 15, but that could change.

Student-athletes competing in spring sports — baseball, softball, golf, tennis and outdoor track and field — were granted eligibility relief by the NCAA. Winter sport competitors, such as gymnastics senior Sabrina Vega or men’s basketball senior Jordan Harris, have not received such relief. Neither had the opportunity to finish competing for their last SEC championship, and it’s likely neither will have the chance to represent Georgia again.

The cancellations are necessary for public safety, but that doesn’t make our new reality less disappointing to the student-athletes, coaches, fans, journalists, broadcasters, producers and communications professionals.

Amid the uncertainty and rapidly-changing news, the Red & Black sports desk has planned upcoming stories and analysis to entertain readers despite the absence of typical coverage.

Right now, we are in the midst of our “Season in review” series, where reporters are recapping each sport’s 2019-20 season regardless of how far the team was able to go. We are hoping to profile former Georgia athletes, look back on iconic Georgia teams of years past and analyze the prospect of Georgia players as they head off into professional leagues.

We’re also going to continue to preview the Georgia football season, break down the Bulldogs’ roster and analyze the impact of COVID-19-related disruptions on spring practice.

I have been communicating with assistant sports editors Austin Roper and Andy Walsh over text and video chat, and we will continue to serve Georgia sports fans to the best of our ability in this unprecedented time. We hope you will stick around with us.

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