POLL QUESTION – APRIL 12
By Leo Haggerty
SHOULD SPORTS RESUME EVEN IF THEY WILL BE PLAYING IN EMPTY VENUES?
First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.
Until the COVID-19 has passed and we, as a nation, get back to normalcy, there will be a weekly poll question.  It will post every Sunday and I have invited all of our It’s Sports Magazine/Knights Sports Productions personnel to chime in with there opinion.
There are no parameters.  The question can be answers by a sentence or two as well as five or six paragraphs.  That is left us to the individual.
So here is this weeks poll question.  Should bring out a multitude of opinions from our ISM/KSP staff.
SHOULD SPORTS RESUME EVEN IF THEY WILL BE PLAYING IN EMPTY VENUES?
What’s your take on it?  Here’s ours.
WILL SMITH – AFC SOUTH CORRESPONDENT
Yes, if the players are safe and the games can be broadcast for the fans to enjoy with the final cavate that the players be paid their normal salaries.  If not I wouldn’t want any player to get hurt and possibly mess up their career for a short term gain.
JAMES CARLSON – GUEST COLUMNIST

Yes. In Baseball it would be like watching your team play the Marlins in Miami.  In Golf it would be like watching the old Skins Game.  In Hockey it would like watching the outdoor game they do each year.  In Football it would be like watching a D-III game when the weather is awful or a many of the bowl games of 6-6 teams.  In Basketball it would be like watching a sub-regional tournament game in a part of the country in which no local teams make it to the final…or skiing, especially in a non-Olympics year. All can be very entertaining, depending upon the level of competitiveness.

With all that being said, I must add these caveats:
1. There must be widely available testing for the COVID-19 antibody.  So far, in my opinion, the government has failed miserably in planning for this and communicating how and when it will happen. The public doesn’t understand that today there is only one kind of a test: the one that confirms you have it. We need the other one too.  
2. At least one of the mainstream therapeutics must be proven effective and available. Here, the private sector will be the heroes. By mainstream I mean FDA approved.
3. No fans until the above and a vaccine. I think/hope most people are responsible and won’t attend until they feel reasonably safe and protected. Of course, the tailgating parking lot folk will be a wild card. They need to be protected from themselves.
I regularly read the weekly analysis by the Goldman Sachs non-partisan medical brainiacs. I’m sure there are plenty of other brain trusts out there as well and these are the caliber of expertise I’m guessing the Leagues, Fortune 500 and Conferences are monitoring, not Fox and MSNBC. As a result, I am cautiously optimistic that we could have #2 maybe by Labor Day and #3 by Autumn 2021. There are currently approximately 50 varsity level initiatives being resourced by the best of our clinical minds at blue chip companies and they are working around the clock. They have vastly more in their toolbox today than even 10 years ago. They will solve this puzzle.
There is no absolute right answer to the issue of re-starting our world. My personal view is that politicians, clinicians and economists all see this through their own lenses. But we will have to merge these views…people need health solutions and they need to participate in a thriving economy.  And sports/entertainment is part of that economy. So decisions must be made and there is no way to completely ameliorate risk….once we can deliver on #1 and #2 we will be in a world of reduced risk.
TROY ODEGAARD – AFC SOUTH CORRESPONDENT
No.  Health for the participants; athletes, officials and coaching staffs.  How do you get them through airports is a huge problem?
KEVIN NOWAK – PHOTOJOURNALIST
This is the question that many athletes, fans, and sports executives are asking in these uncertain times.  Sports can help take people’s minds off of the current situation, for a short period of time, and help to uplift the collective spirit of the country.  The short answer is YES, but in my opinion there must be some important qualifications.  First off, the NBA and NHL are done…pack it up and restart next year.  These comments are for MLB, MLS, and the NFL.  There isn’t one commissioner who is going to restart their league if it isn’t safe.  The spread of the virus will have to be significantly reduced and players will need to be comfortable leaving their homes. In order to resume practice and then play games players, coaches, and staff are going to need to be sequestered away, at neutral sites.  They could end up being away from family for a significant amount of time.  In order for this to work there has to be rapid and frequent testing.  There are 5 minute tests now and I suspect nearly instantaneous tests will be available at some point in the coming months.  All of those will need to be in place for this to work.  Players, coaches, and staff, as well as those cooking meals and working at the hotels will need to be tested regularly to ensure no one is sick.  That being said…none of this can happen if there remains a shortage of testing for the general public.  If players are getting tested to play a ballgame but folks at home who are symptomatic still can’t get tested, well that is a public relations problem none of the leagues want to undertake.  Sports will eventually be back, in some capacity, but it may take a bit longer than folks might want.  Above all, everyone stay healthy and stay smart!
ROB KRIETE-NEW BUCS CORRESPONDENT
Although we would all miss fans at the venues, a fan-less experience is better than nothing.  And, for most sports, (hockey excluded) the view from the cameras at home cannot be beat.  I could pretty much call balls and strikes from my easy chair.  Of all the things I miss during quarantine, it is sports that I miss the most.  So, I would prefer fan-less sports over no sports.
T.J. SHARPE-AFC CHEF
Yes.  Originally I had a caveat that they shouldn’t do it without having a plan to get fans back in there, even on a limited capacity basis.  But then I realized that the fan experience, while important, has morphed into the secondary experience (by far) and only affects the small fraction of fans that can afford to attend. Viewing sporting events is a community exercise, one that drives businesses far and wide, and brings people together.  As this winds down into summer, and our population faces a new paradigm in social interaction, sports will be a key in establishing new social norms that blend safety and the desire for personal interaction. Football season 2020 will be the test for integrating both aspects successfully.
KAZ RIVARD – NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
My short answer is yes, bring back live sports. Take the precautionary measures, follow regulations/protocol, and bring back the competition. Empty arena or max capacity, we are all missing sports. The tricky part would be, where can the games/events be held?

However, I think it is a tricky situation. I would love to see sports come back, but what if your All-Star athlete contracts the dreaded Covid-19? What would the screening process look like before the teams get the green light to play? What would the expectation or protocol be for the players, coaches, trainers, etc. when not engaged in competition? Would they need to stay in a quarantined safe zone until their next game? I think it would be too difficult to manage, and keep up with the CDC as well as WHO regulations that change so rapidly. However, I see combat sports (UFC), and professional wrestling taking place in empty arenas. I suppose one could justify these events taking place with limited athletes in these sports. They are also going above and beyond following all the current regulations and protocols. I would have assumed golf, of all sports, would go on as normal but even they are cancelling events. I am contradicting myself by saying yes initially, but the situation is so fluid and rapidly changing to the point where it would be an extremely difficult decision to make as a commissioner. As viewers and fans, we are going crazy without live sports. I for one am enjoying watching some classic games and highlights, but like most people I am hungry for some live action. Safety is number 1, so it’s a tough call. Again, selfishly, I want to see sports come back.  

At the end of the day, the economic impact this is having on so many is truly hard to watch unfold as the days and weeks pass. Hopefully, we can start seeing the trends swing the other direction, along with getting us all the live sports content we are anxiously waiting to watch.

DAVID ALEXANDER – AFC WEST CORRESPONDENT
I think it’s a bad idea, but might be inevitable.  MLB is discussing playing games in Arizona, NBA is considering a variety of ways of getting players back out on the court, and I’m sure the NFL is exploring the scenario.  There’s a lot of money at stake and a hungry audience out there.  The risk is the inability to ensure the workforce is healthy.  Players might be too reluctant to play.

JIM THIES-NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
Yes. The most important fact that needs to be paramount is that, if this is done, there is no way that ANYONE is exposed to COVID-19. Having said that, playing games would bring some normalcy back to us. I think that is a good thing, but competing in empty venues is definitely not what anyone really wants. STAY SAFE EVERYONE!

LEO HAGGERTY-EDITOR
Yes with a huge but attached to that answer.  Only if the games will be played in their correct existing venues.  That creates three massive undertakings.  The first is transporting the traveling  team to the venue.  The second is housing the visiting team.  The final problem is coordinating the media needed to cover the even so it can be broadcast.

Fans are chomping at the bit for ANY kind of sporting event.  I don’t see that happening for at least six to nine months but I do see this occurring before we see venues open to fan attendance.