NOW WHAT – NOVEMBER 2
By Leo Haggerty
Let’s review, shall we? The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, using only the bubble approach, successfully navigated through a truncated regular season as well as an expanded playoff scenario to crown champions. Major League Baseball struggled to complete a 60-game regular season schedule along with a modified bubble playoff plan that barely managed to declare a winner. The National Football League and the NCAA are in the midst of trying to to play their 2020 pigskin regular season and to say it’s been a challenge is an understatement. Both groups are facing cancellations and postponements as they try to deal with the weekly Covid-19 outbreaks everywhere.
That’s where the sports world stands as we head in November. Now, the NBA and the NHL and MLB has to make some serious decisions as to when their new campaigns will commence.
Here’s the salient facts that the three professional leagues must consider. The first, and probably the foremost issue, is when to start the new seasons. This is going to be crucial to the survival of a good many franchises in all professional leagues.
The trio of professional groups all depend on fans packing their auditoriums and stadiums. Granted, because of television contracts, some need the revenue from gate receipts more than others but they all need that influx of money to be sustainable.
Frankly, some franchises in all three sports will not be able to survive another year of bubble contest whether they are on the local or national level. Those teams, and it will be more than one, will not be able exist for another year using that model.
Also, all three leagues will have to have serious discussions with the individuals that represent their players associations. With the limited amount of revenue from the previous seasons, both sides will have to come to some sort of compromise on a how salaries will be reconstructed the move forward.
These groups must come to a temporary agreement, and I emphasize temporary, to allow teams to compete. If that does not come to fruition, that will cause that specific league to make the hard decision as to whether to postpone or even cancel their upcoming season.
The second is the safety of all the people attending the tilts. It would be a PR nightmare if there was an outbreak caused by attending a professional sports contest.
For all of the above reasons, I submit to you that the NBA and the NHL will be forced to delay their openings. Look for both leagues to back up their 2020-21 seasons to February of 2021 or even later. Also, look for MLB to back up opening day to early April or later.
Hopefully, there will be a breakthrough and a vaccine will be developed that makes all the points I have made moot. If not, be prepared for another year of pandemic sports where no one knows when games will be contested.
Why, you ask? Because it’s the right thing to do for everyone involved.