Game on…by Rob Kriete – December 2
Adulting in 2020
Paying one’s monthly bills is certainly not the best part of being an adult. It is, though, in this writer’s opinion, a benchmark for becoming an adult. Working with students as a public school teacher for many years had me living paycheck-to-paycheck, and “adulting” entailed making tough choices of how to spend my earnings best. Professional sports teams will all be “adulting” in a similar fashion as they try to navigate their monthly bills in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
First up, is Major League Baseball this week with their annual non-tender deadline. This is when MLB teams decide whether to offer contracts to players with less than six years of service time. Arbitration-eligible players are in this group and are among the early-career players who could receive a significant salary raise if tendered a contract. The potential of a hefty raise for some is where MLB teams will be trying to cut some corners (a.k.a. salary.) There are reports that the Philadelphia Phillies have lost over $140 million during the fan-free, 2020 season, and the expectation is that every team has incurred similar losses. I expect that there will be many quality players and even star players not offered contracts creating a unique market for free agents this offseason.
NBA and NHL teams will also be forced to make hard choices,
as both leagues played severely shortened and mostly fan-free seasons. Teams will be looking for creative ways to balance their losses, but I would expect that players will feel the brunt of this “creativity.”
The National Football League, with their September start and without the four-game preseason, may take the smallest hit financially, as they are already able to integrate varying amounts of fans at their stadiums. The wealthiest of professional sports leagues seem poised to navigate the financial pitfalls of the pandemic the best. Yet, with less-than-full stadiums, there will be less income. I would expect that the effects will be less noticeable to NFL fans and players.
Ultimately, each league will have post-pandemic challenges.
Players and owners alike have to navigate these challenges carefully as many everyday fans have their own financial issues created during 2020. Let’s face it, “adulting” has been the least fun in 2020 for many, if not most, people. Professional sports leagues, players and owners, would be wise to incur their financial losses without complaint to show deference to those struggling daily in our world and those who have made each league the revenue-creating mega-machines that they are.
Until we get our next Game On, be safe, everyone.