The coronavirus and its lasting effects on Georgia State Panthers’ athletics

Illustration by Amanda Dixon-Shropsphire | The Signal


Life as we know it is at a standstill, and the sports world has arguably suffered the most. COVID-19 has put much of the nation under lockdown, which impacts all athletes. 

In addition to basketball season-ending during conference tournaments, all spring sports across the country were canceled indefinitely. For student-athletes at Georgia State, the devastating news prematurely ended many people’s sports careers just when they were having great seasons. 

Big-name schools, such as the University of Alabama and Duke University, have the cash flow to stay strong in the athletics department. But mid-major conference schools, including Georgia State, lack the resources to assist their athletes in emergencies like this one. 

Before the lockdown, players and coaches were carefully monitoring the situation and even practicing early social distancing methods. Redshirt-senior guard Damon Wilson continues to track precautions as he learns more about the disease.

“I’ve been keeping with [COVID-19],” Wilson said. “I’ve been washing my hands and keeping my body clean.”

Junior guard Kane Williams also kept up on the news and highlighted how the virus changed the atmosphere in the locker room. He noted how players were now more careful about touching things in the locker room.

“Everyone became a germaphobe,” Williams said. “The guys started bringing a lot of hand sanitizer and were careful about touching the equipment.”

Head coach Rob Lanier has also kept up with the newest headlines. He understood how big of a risk the virus was to players. With so many players in close quarters, basketball players are in the direct line of fire.

After the Panthers lost to the Georgia Southern Eagles in the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Lanier announced the conference’s decision to cancel the rest of the tournament. 

“We’ve definitely been keeping track of it,” Lanier said. “The best thing we can do as a team is to keep practicing smart hygiene habits.”

Basketball was the first domino to fall during the pandemic. The same night the Panthers lost, Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. After that, the NBA announced the indefinite suspension of all games; other major leagues quickly followed suit.

That conference tournament game came very close to being canceled just an hour before tip-off.

The effects of the pandemic also spread to the gridiron with the Georgia State spring football game also getting canceled. Former quarterback Dan Ellington sympathized with the players during these uncertain times. 

“I feel for the players because they lose their time with the team and time to practice with the coaches,” Ellington said. 

Spring games are important for the team and the program, as it shows off both the new recruits and returning players. The situation has many college football fans worried if there will even be a season. Experts and analysts, such as ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, doubt a cancellation of the whole season will happen. 

Golf and baseball were also canceled. The cancellation of all spring sports was a shame since many Panthers participating were looking to have standout seasons. 

Led by standout senior Elian Merejo, the baseball team was bound for a great year. Marejo himself was on pace for a record-breaking season for the conference, let alone the Panthers program. It also prematurely ended the first season under the new regime of Brad Stromdahl. They were making great strides in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the program.

The coronavirus has heavily impacted the sports world and Georgia State is no exception. During these trying times, it is important to remember how much the deadly disease affects student-athletes.