By Pat Gallen

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When you look at U.S. history, sports is often the engine driving society toward change. For whatever reason, this country really didn’t sound the alarm on the pandemic until the NBA decided to do the unthinkable.

One year ago today, the sports world was turned upside down.

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On March 11, 2020, the Sixers beat the Pistons at Wells Fargo Center. The celebration was short-lived. Later that night, the NBA would suspend its season after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

Like dominoes, the rest would fall.

The Phillies would play on March 12 in Clearwater, Florida, but that would be it for several months.

“I did like where we were as a team when we shut down,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t know if it would have changed our season.”

The Flyers would be put on ice that day, as well. The Union shortly thereafter. And there would be*no shining moment, the NCAA tournament canceled.

“Basketball has been such a huge part of our lives,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said, “but not as big as the health of any individual, certainly our country.”

The summer bubbles gave us a taste of sports; it just didn’t work out well for the local teams.

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The Eagles would play without fans the majority of the season, probably for the better.

Cardboard cutouts did, and still do, fill the seats. But as difficult as the past year was in sports, there are reasons for optimism.

“It’s really nice to feel their energy and it really helps us,” Flyers winger Joel Farabee said.

Fans are back at Wells Fargo Center for Flyers games. The best in the East Sixers will have a small crowd beginning Sunday.

“Yay, I’m happy. We want to see our fans here,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said. “And we have proven here in Philadelphia that it is a home court, our fans are phenomenal, we need them.”

Hopefully, South Philly will be rocking come playoff time.

In addition, the Phillies will have 8,800 in the stands on April 1.

The Union are slated for 20% capacity for their Champions League match on April 14.

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And hopefully, we’ve inched even closer to normal when Eagles’ season rolls around.