Athletes should get used to seeing these for a while.

So much for sports being a distraction from tough times. Governor Jay Inslee’s ban on large gatherings is the latest announcement that prohibits fans from cheering on their favorite pro teams in person. Though our nascent XFL franchise, the Dragons, will take on the Los Angeles Wildcats as scheduled this Sunday at CenturyLink Field (ESPN2), no fans will be allowed in. (All ticket holders will get refunds.) The Sounders' home match versus Dallas FC on March 21 has been postponed. And the Mariners will seek "alternative plans" to opening their season at T-Mobile Park on March 26, as the MLB has now postponed the start of the season by at least two weeks. (Refund info here.)

College sports aren't immune, either. The University of Washington says its games will go on, but for now, only recruits and student-athletes' family members can watch in person (beyond essential staffers). And the upcoming NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments will follow a similar standard.

We knew these bans were coming. It didn't make much sense for people to work from home and then pack a stadium, shouting in close proximity. The question that lingers is whether games will get canceled. Italy has barred all athletic competition as it copes with a rampant outbreak. Might something similar happen here?

If ensuring player safety becomes dicey, hopefully yes. Until that time, we can at least binge March Madness like usual (more, actually) and cheer on our local teams from the comfort of our couches. It will be a tad eerie, and it certainly won't be the same escape that roaring at the Link is, but it's still a reprieve.

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