How COVID-19 created the most unique November sports weekend of all time
Back when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States in March of 2020, there was doubt about whether or not a multitude of sporting events could even happen.
Regular seasons were put on hold across the NBA, NHL and MLB. The 2020 Summer Olympics were pushed back a full year, leading to the “creation” of the 2021 Summer Olympics.
The XFL went out of business, and both the NCAA and NFL were forced into crisis mode to determine how to move forward with football seasons in the fall.
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While seasons either fell by the wayside or were postponed for months, annual events took even bigger hits. March Madness was cancelled across a variety of collegiate winter sports, and marathons in Boston, Chicago and New York City were scrapped, as well.
Another annual event that had its future go up into the air was a tradition unlike any other: the Masters.
But, as they say, when one door closes, another one opens. In this case, when it was determined that the Masters, generally the first of golf’s four major championships, could not go on as scheduled in April of 2020, something special was created as a result.
Generally, the Masters is held right around the start of both the MLB regular season and the NBA and NHL postseasons, and leads to a special “sports equinox.”
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Unfortunately for fans of that “tradition,” the 2020 Masters was pushed back to mid-November, while the Stanley Cup Playoffs wrapped up in August and the NBA and MLB postseasons each finished up in October.
So, instead of baseball games and playoff battles on the court or on the ice, sports fans will be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime combination of other big-time sporting events.
When the 2020 Masters tee off on Thursday, November 12, golf fans will get to watch some of the sport’s biggest names, like Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and, of course, Tiger Woods, in the morning, all before Week 10 of the 2020 NFL season kicks off that night.
After the final putt rolls in on the 18th hole Thursday evening, fans can simply change the channel from CBS to FOX, and stay seated for a top-tier Thursday Night Football matchup between the 6-2 Tennessee Titans and the 5-3 Indianapolis Colts.
Then, when the second round is complete Friday evening, football fans can tune in to watch No. 7 Cincinnati take on East Carolina on ESPN2.
But, in a twist that only 2020 could provide, one of the positives of the entire weekend quickly fell apart, as positive COVID-19 tests derailed a Saturday night rematch of one of the biggest games of the 2019 season.
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Initially, CBS was set to play host to The Masters by day, and a battle between No. 1 Alabama and LSU by night. But, almost a year to the day of their 46-41 battle in 2019, COVID-19 wreaked havoc in yet another way as the game, along with a game between No. 5 Texas A&M and Tennessee, were postponed to a later date.
Instead, the Masters will take center stage on Saturday, with a primetime Big Ten matchup on ABC between No. 13 Wisconsin and Michigan looking to make up for the emptiness in the college football schedule.
Finally, the ultimate sports equinox for football fans across the country will take place on Sunday, November 15, with early tee times for the final round of the Masters paving the way for a full slate of NFL action in the afternoon and evening.
From 10 a.m. ET to 3 p.m. ET, CBS will air the push for the green jacket, while a game between the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Teddy Bridgewater-led Carolina Panthers gets started at 1 p.m. ET. on FOX.
Then, after the 84th rendition of the Masters wraps up, a slew of high-caliber NFL action will kick off in the 4 p.m. slate, including games between the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals, the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins, and the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
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To top it all off, the classic rivalry between the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens and 3-5 New England Patriots will add another chapter as the two teams go head-to-head on Sunday Night Football.
In a year filled with so many negatives and darkness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem tough to find light in any positives.
Add in all of the delays in a multitude of sports seasons throughout the year, and the fatigue that could come from consistent news related to COVID-19 in general, and fans may be burnt out all together as they turn their attention to a better 2021.
But, in a year full of so much uncertainty, the fact that a weekend in November could even happen, let alone be filled with such a solid sports schedule, is something that fans should invest in if they can.
It may not feel like the same ambience that the Masters usually provides, and football games may not have the same spark in venues where fans are not in attendance.
But, the four days between November 12 and November 15 will undoubtedly go down as one of the most unique sports weekends of all time, and fans should try their best to take it all in and enjoy it all as best as they can.
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