If all the sports leagues opened for business and played in their regular stadiums or arenas by June 1st would you attend? I think it should be noticed that even though we all truly want the leagues back in action, I think many of us would hesitate or not attend the events. Recent polls show that there is a large part of the population that wants things opened again. But a closer look into those polls also indicate about ¾ of them would not attend games or events without a virus vaccine.
The central question is when it is safe to be a part of large crowds? My understanding is that there will not be a vaccine until next summer. What sports will this impact if there are no large crowds? The impact will be most felt at the collegiate level. The reason is ticket revenues. The professional leagues have tv deals with major networks, not that ticket revenues don’t help. Colleges also have some tv packages, but they are not the same level and they are shared amongst the schools in the conference. MLB, for example, has teamed with exclusive tv deals that make up most of their revenue but it varies by team often in the multiple millions of dollars. The colleges need the fans in the stands to make their money. The issue here is that a Harris poll showed 72% of respondents would not return to games until there was a vaccine. Only 13% said they would feel safe attending these types of large crowd events.
Recently the Governors of Texas and Florida have put on the table the idea of opening their states prior to a National opening release date. Texas seems to be the most forward as they are thinking in two weeks. Even with all of this and the ever-popular push to get opened and the people back to work, the leagues must walk a tight rope here. On one hand, there are those who NEED for sports to be operational and they can get their lives off eternal hold. On the other hand, there is a component of safety and profits. As shown above, there is a likelihood that many will not attend the events in large crowds, but does that mean in smaller crowds, people will feel safer? What about no crowds?
My view is that no answer will be the best answer. Smaller crowds will work for some things but not for others. Can you see Ohio St playing in the Horseshoe with only about 25,000 people social distanced at 6ft apart? I can’t envision that. I also believe some sports are better viewed on tv while others are a must for being there live. The NFL is much better tv experience and MLB is a much better live experience for example. The leagues will have to make something work and should be open to all ideas that keep the spirit of the game intact. MLB is floating around the idea of playing all their games in the spring training sites and realigning the leagues and divisions for the season. I am not sure that is how MLB will look, but I applaud the effort to be relevant.
All the sports leagues will be back, and they will play a season of some sort. The product on the field should be exactly as if it were in a normal season, with the changes based on how each sport should best show their players and teams. They should all gear for a lower attendance, hence, drive for better tv and internet access. They should do everything they can to draw in the sports bettor. These leagues will end up rebranding themselves and depending on how well they do this, become more endeared to the sports fan not less. It is their time to interact, experiment, and entice their customer. We as customers should look forward to seeing what is presented by each league and enjoy what is being offered to us. The reality of having a “normal” year is virtually gone. We need to be open-minded to what is ultimately presented and do our level best to enjoy it. As long as the games are not tweaked to a point in which we don’t recognize them, I am game for anything. Are you ready to see what is unveiled to us? I am ready and excited for a unique season and ready to work hard on understanding the betting part of it. I hope you are too.