It Looks Like We Will Get at Least Some Sports This Summer
Well, it looks like for all the gloom and doom and still over-arching risk, we're going to see the return of organized Sporting Events sooner rather than later.
Mind you, there likely will not be any fans in attendance and some of the details remain to be hammered out--but you can expect to see your favorite NBA, MLS...maybe Baseball and likely NFL and College Football team kick up activities in the near future.
Discussions kicked it up a notch this past weekend when MLB came up with a proposal to play an 82 game season kicking off around July 4th with a whole bunch of minor changes to facilitate a compressed season. The proposal, which ESPN.com broke down quite well HERE lacks one key detail, an agreement with the MLBPA over player pay.
Back in March when things got delayed the two sides agreed players would receive a "Pro-Rated" pay scale for 2020 based on games played. The most recent proposal by the league proposes a 50/50 split of league revenue when the season starts. Before you jump up and say "That's great", well, actually it probably isn't.
For players, it means their check for the year is based strictly on TV and marketing revenue (and a few other things) for the season. Which is not going to be near what it normally is and is something the players fully realize. Without fans, no concession or ticket revenue will exist and according to reports--that's roughly 40% of what the teams make each season.
For the players---it doesn't mention the agreement made in March which would guarantee their pay and that is likely going to be a sticking point as the league and owners don't want to lose money and are trying to figure out how to avoid doing just that.
NBA, NFL, MLS and College Football teams don't have the same disputes and likely won't have a battle to get back to action. (Though I could be wrong)
In Arizona, the Governor announced he's lifting the ban on Sporting Events taking place (though fans can't come). Georgia kicked the can til the end of May, but I suspect will address it by then and look for other states to do the same.
Meanwhile, the biggest logistically challenged sport may actually be College Football. There are half a zillion proposals and ideas what to do about CFB and almost none of them are the same. We've talked extensively about these ideas on our OSG Sports College Football Podcast: The Review (on all podcast platforms plus YouTube) so I won't get into them here.
The push is for College Football to start again if things continue as they are around the normal time which is doable as the window to start Fall Practice is still several weeks away, though it is closing fast. Probably the biggest problem facing College Football is the same one facing most of the country---getting everyone on the same page.
NCAA Prez Mark Emmert didn't help things by saying the NCAA won't be the final arbiter, that it will be up to individual states health protocols and the decisions made in each state. In reality, the NCAA has oversight during the College Football season. They have zero oversight of the College Football Playoff and that's a big, big issue.
Listen, I'm not sitting here saying it's the best thing and the heck with all the COVID-19 issues currently plaguing us in any way, shape or form. In some places we've gotten to the point where anyone who wants to get tested for the virus can, which is great. Not everyone is New York or California, the two places hit the hardest by all of this and progress, albeit gradual progress, has been made.
But the whole thing has become a political "Hot Potato" where one side says screw it all, let's open back up because the economy is dying and the other says we aren't ready yet, the virus and deaths are going to get worse if we open back up.
I have no idea who is right though For What it is Worth, I tend to go with the Doctors over the Politicians if for no other reason than Politicians tend to be largely out of touch doofuses who make decisions based on lining their pockets rather than what is best for pretty much anyone not in their tax bracket and despite what the conspiracy theorists say--most Doctors are actually trying to protect people from themselves...
None of this changes my opinion that we're going to get Sports and soon. I believe we are. Professional Sports---I don't really have a major problem with them slowly restarting. If they can gather, limit travel and exposure to outside groups of people while being regularly tested for the virus---then why not?
It's not a perfect scenario and no, I'm not a fan of playing in empty stadiums. But I also get the fact there is a Shit-Ton of money to be lost if the leagues don't play. No, the money should not EVER take priority over the health and safety of players, organizations and workers in the stadiums and facilities. EVER....
If there is a way to balance all this and make it work--let's do it.
College is a different issue and I'm still convinced they won't play unless students are on campus this fall. Yes, some states have already gone on record saying they plan for that to happen. But not all of them.
Having a College Football season where the SEC and Big 10 start in September while the Pac 12 and Group of Five or another Power 5 conference starts in the Spring would be an absolute, total mess.
Let's hope we don't get to that point....