What a dichotomy of a week! We have had the successful return of the UFC as they held 3 events this week. They did have a hitch with one team, but their safety protocols caught it and it was a non-issue. By all accounts, the fights were entertaining and widely thought of as a success. NASCAR held a live event just today. In Darlington, SC they ran a 400-mile race LIVE. In Germany, the Bundesliga soccer league started yesterday May 16th. At the same time, MLB players are embattled with ownership over contracts and issues perceived as safety. Several colleges have disbanded several of their school’s athletic teams. State Governors have not only not opened their state, but they extended their shutdowns through July! The KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) has gained some US fans. It plus the Taiwanese league is the only baseball being played. So how do we feel about all this? How are we supposed to feel?
My thoughts are to build off the successful events that have taken place so far. My belief is there will not be a 100% guarantee of acquiring an illness throughout the rest of 2020 and likely into 2021. It continues to be said that a cure or vaccine will not be available until mid-2021, so we will have to “risk” sickness by daring to get back to work, sports, and life. We need to engage in an economy, a work-life, a social life, and a world where we are again achieving our goals. That is easy for me to say living in Florida where we are virtually open now. I can go to the beach, the mall, or some restaurants. I can get a hair cut and my wife can go get her nails done. The risk is just so one-sided to the older folks, that we must care for them in a select way, but not at the cost of the rest of society losing everything we have. We build off those that have dared to get out there which means we must get the rest of the workforce and the sports leagues into action.
I found it very odd to hear the players talking about the protocols that are necessary before “risking” their lives to entertain us. I have stated this several times in my writings recently. I am appalled by the notion that these guys think they are risking their lives for me! They are not war heroes nor are they at the forefront of the virus at any time. They are at less risk that the Walmart employee! The “new” normal in ANY work situation is a series of questions, and a temperature check plus a mask. Mask wearing is nearly universal for staff but not necessary for a customer in most cases. These players make it sound like that is a big deal. It is happening every day to many workers daily. They have asked for thousands of tests and testing. Owner Mark Cuban has suggested that the NBA or any other league does not start again until there is a vaccine. The Mayor of Toronto has shuttered that city until August! What happens to the TOR Blue Jay home games? There is a protocol in the owners’ plan to the player union for those kinds of things, but this is where we are today in 2020. Testing is suggested to be widely available and that should not be an issue to start up these leagues. Anyone can get a test in the state of Florida. You do not have to have a prescription to be tested. There are drive-thru sites available at many police locations. Anyway, my thoughts on all of this reflect pay.
The NFL is in a perfect spot in terms of timing. They will be playing their season when the pandemic is waning to an end and it will be their start of a season. Pay considerations are mostly mute for that league. If the NBA were to just start a new season 2020-2021, then they too could take advantage of the timing. The NHL would likely be in the same position. The problem is the start of the MLB season and it being shortened and how to deal with the continuation of either the NBA or NHL seasons. It seems to me the most realistic approach is to shut down the pending seasons and get everyone ready for the next season for the NBA and NHL. I wrote about the MLB earlier and find it extremely hard to swallow that billionaire owners and millionaire players would cancel a season because they could not agree on how to share the revenue. I think they will work it out.
An interesting question came up though. What if say, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Blake Snell decided it was in their best interest to sit out, yet the rest of MLB went ahead and gave the green light to play? The commissioner made it clear that any player could make their own decision about whether to play or not. They could make their won decision about safety protocol, risk, and the virus. The KBO and the CPBL are playing without issue. It is too bad the MLB is having this rough way to go. I repeat from earlier articles, that I believe that neither side is at fault; but it would just be awful to have baseball in other countries and not in the US. Especially after watching some of these games. The MLB is by far the cream of the crop in talent and performance. I can’t wait to see them in action once again!
Wrapping this up. I think we are going to see many weeks like this in the near future, but it is a GREAT sign to see. Up until this point, we have been saturated with rerun games, Michael Jordan 10-piece documentary, esports, and simulated games! It is very encouraging that we get to witness LIVE events again. It only seems likely that we eventually will have more LIVE events than we do simulations, cancellations, extended shutdowns and though fans are not in the stands, that time will come! Let’s build this from this week and get the momentum rolling towards the opening of everything.