Historic pauses in sports

March 20, 2020

Since World War II started for the U.S. in the early 1940s, all sports have been significantly affected at some point. For example, the Masters was not played from 1943 to 1945. Baseball was actually the only professional sport that continued to be played during World War II. Most of the teams were playing older and some previously retired players just to give the fans something to look forward to watching. The Baseball Commissioner at the time was Judge Kenesaw Landis (1921-1944). He actually wrote a letter to President Roosevelt asking him whether or not to continue with the season and got an answer back that they should play if possible.

Most of the time when sports have stopped, it was because of a strike or lockout. In baseball in 1981, there was a strike at the start of the season that basically cut the season in half, and the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to win the World Series that year. In 1994, because the players decided to strike in the second half of the season, there was no World Series. I hope something like that does not have to happen this year because of the coronavirus.

In the NFL in 1987, there was a players’ strike for almost half of the season, which the owners broke by using replacement players. In 1999, the NBA players were locked out by the owners and they were only able to play a 50-game season.

I think the closest situation I can come up with to compare to what we are experiencing now is what happened to the sports world after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. All sports were delayed a week to 10 days. The world series in 2001 went into November for the first time ever.

In this case, no one knows yet when sports will be able to resume. The only sport which is generating headlines is the NFL, because they’re in their free agency period. The big news is the fact that Tom Brady will not play for the New England Patriots anymore. He is going to play for coach Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a physical, he will sign a two year contract.

So far, I have not been happy with the Eagles' free agent strategy. They definitely need some help at the wide receiver position, to assist Carson Wentz. They have also lost one of their best players on defense; Malcolm Jenkins is going back to the New Orleans Saints. I am happy that the NFL decided to continue their off-season activities, as it has served as a distraction for me, and, I’m assuming, for a lot of other people during this time of confusion in our world.


  • A 2002 Cape grad and 2007 UD grad, Lewes resident Sumner Spence is one of the Cape area's biggest sports fans. Wheelchair-bound his entire life, he has lived vicariously through his sports-playing father, brother, and friends, who gave him his love of sports. He hopes to provide new and interesting perspectives on the sports stories and issues of the day. Email Sumner at

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter