What the CDC two-month suggested ban means for sports in Michigan (spoiler: it ain't pretty)

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Sports games are frozen pretty much across the globe, and unlike with the old Nintendo system, you can't just blow into the cartridge to get things up and running again.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Sunday night that it is recommending an eight-week ban on gatherings with more than 50 people in attendance because of the coronavirus outbreak, and on Monday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a similar directive.

The new CDC guidelines likely will push back the Tigers' season opener even more.

Most sporting leagues and organizations have said they plan to follow CDC guidelines.

That would take us until May 10, and that would seem to be the best-case scenario.

Here's a look at where that could leave the sports world, particularly locally:

NBA: The first league to recognize the seriousness of the situation by suspending operations, it had about a month remaining in the regular season. Given how long the NBA's playoffs typically last, some two months, it's awfully hard to imagine the regular season picking back up. Moving straight to the playoffs has to be the only option; otherwise, they'll be playing deep into August. So there's a good chance the Pistons season is over, at 20-46, and with the fifth-best odds of landing the No. 1 overall draft pick.

NHL: In pretty much the same boat as the NBA, although with only three weeks left in the regular season. Their playoffs, too, last about two months, so playing out the regular season would put them into early August before crowning a champion. There are rumblings the NHL is considering axing the rest of the regular season and expanding the playoffs to perhaps 24 teams, with a condensed first round. On Monday, the NHL announced it was allowing its players to return to their offseason homes. Either way, it's probably kaput for the Wings, who, at 17-49-5, already had basically secured the league's worst record.

MLB: The season was to be delayed two weeks, but MLB confirmed it's going to be a whole lot longer than that now. If the season were to start right on May 10, that's one thing, but we all pretty much know that's not happening, especially given an additional spring-training period is almost certainly going to be needed. You're probably looking at June 1, at the earliest, with baseball optimistically getting in maybe a 100-game season. The good news on that front: The Tigers aren't going to lose 100 games again. The state also has several minor-league teams, including affiliated teams in Comstock Park, Lansing and Midland.

NFL: The Lions' season isn't likely to be affected — at least, unless things go terribly wrong on a global scale in the coming weeks. But the NFL Draft, scheduled for April 23-25, definitely will be. MGM Resorts has shut down all of its Las Vegas properties, and that includes Bellagio, where the draft was to be held, smack dab in the middle of the fountains. It's tough to delay the draft, because many players drafted high (the Lions pick third) typically play right away, so a scaled-down version, or even a conference call, might be the fix.

Golf: The PGA Tour was among the last sports leagues standings, saying it would soldier on at The Players Championship without fans, before thinking better of it. It's shut down until mid-April, through the Masters (which is postponed officially, but even Jack Nicklaus thinks it won't happen). Now, with the CDC guidelines, we're getting quite close to a decision needing to be made on the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, scheduled for the last week of May. The Champions Tour's Senior PGA is even sooner than that, May 21-14, at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.

State golf: Both the Golf Association of Michigan and PGA of Michigan said Sunday that they had no plans yet to cancel any tournaments, which start in late April. But both also suggested they're following CDC guidelines, so expect that to change soon. As for recreational golf, the GAM had feared Whitmer's executive order applied to the state's 650 golf courses, but the governor's office later clarified it only applied to clubhouse capacity and bar- and food-service shutdowns.

Motor sports: NASCAR and IndyCar were the last major pro sports to shut it down. IndyCar has its Belle Isle duals set for the same weekend as the Rocket Mortgage Classic, May 30-31, while NASCAR is set to come to Michigan International Speedway the following weekend with the Firekeepers Casino 400. Once again, dangerously close to the CDC's time frame, which again is subject to expand.

High schools: The Michigan High School Athletic Association is being optimistic in suspending its winter state championships, most notably girls and boys basketball. It made its announcement last week to shut down until April 6, coinciding with Whitmer's school-shutdown directive. Given the CDC's recommendation, expect an updated plan from the MHSAA in short order.

Colleges: The NCAA and most conferences have shut down through the spring seasons, with a couple of holdouts (like the Horizon League). This affects dozens of sports, including the cancellation of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, as well as the Frozen Four, which was set to be played at Little Caesars Arena in April. The next championship on the schedule is the Division III women's volleyball finals, Nov. 19-21, with Division I field hockey crowning its champion Nov. 22.

Soccer: The National Independent Soccer Association announced a 30-day shutdown until mid-April, affecting Hamtramck's Detroit City FC and the Pontiac-based Michigan Stars. The league said it would look at rescheduling postponed matches, including two home matches at Keyworth Stadium. Detroit City FC's new women's team is scheduled to open its season May 9 at home against Midwest United, which would appear to be in jeopardy under the CDC's updated guidelines.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984