As professional sports peer their collective head out from the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic and methodically finds a way to restarting its leagues, ongoing questions run a long way past the number of games that will be played, whether championships will be awarded, and when fans may be permitted to see it all face-to-face.
No, the more pressing questions lie in which changes due to COVID-19 may become lasting ones and in how these changes may fundamentally reorder the landscape of the game.
What’s more, the biggest loser in the whole mess might be Major League Baseball.
For now, this crisis has caused us to forget that the league and players are occupied in a fight over massive amounts of dollars and unable to come to an agreement to play, even as fans wrestle with a large number of job losses. In the midst of it all, the United States is facing more than 100,000 American deaths due to the pandemic and a racial reckoning taking shape. How will this impact major league sports?
NBA Moving into MLB region
In a jungle where football is central and every other industry scrambles for billions of dollars to support their industries, baseball, hockey, and soccer have become proficient at carving out spaces from Big Football.
For baseball, this meant a near-monopoly in the late spring months, an ideal runway for its all intents and purposes unlimited stock. However, if necessity is the mother of innovation, it’s likewise the father of encroachment. What’s more, for the following two years, the threat of the NBA will become much more genuine.
With baseball coming to an agreement to play this season, the industry will enjoy an exclusivity window of just three weeks toward the beginning of July, as the NBA projects its games will continue in late July.
The upcoming season will be no better: The NBA is planning a Dec. 1 beginning for the 2020-21 season, driving its regular season into May, the Finals into July, and the draft after that. That is a full period of moving into a no-holds-barred competition with baseball instead of football. In the end, the NBA could end up benefiting from the results.
Will there be social distancing?
Yes, when it is useful.
Active players, mentors, and umpires are not required to keep up with social distancing when they are on the field. In these circumstances, they don’t need to wear protective gear or masks. Players also won’t need to wear protection in the dugouts, warm-up areas, or on the field.
Players sitting in the stands or somewhere else where social distancing is necessary will need to behave as if they are in the holes or bullpens. That implies no cellphones or illegal electronic gadgets.
Fighting About Cash Doesn’t Help
Major League Baseball remains a $10 billion industry, and its demise is a long way from inevitable, especially with local TV contracts. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 25-year-deal marked in January 2013 is valued at $8.35 billion. Equity stakes in systems guarantee numerous franchises get a much higher piece of their pie than conventional TV deals.
Yet as cord-cutting increases and the gold rush of deals signed a decade ago start to sunset, franchises may feel both immediate and long-term impact. This winter, even if baseball figures out how to pound out a deal and play a 2020 season, the game’s ebb and flow issues may impact the sport. These include an absence of recognition for its most celebrated stars, a moderate game, and a labor war that is expected to continue through 2021.
Consider that by the time Opening Day 2021 comes around, a few franchises may have played as few as 50 games since September 2019. In an equivalent span, NBA groups will have played more than 130 games.
After the baseball strike, there were questions concerning whether fans were going to return since they were exhausted. Likewise, for next season, there may be fans that would prefer not to be close to different fans and potentially expose themselves to COVID-19. Stay informed with the latest news of MLB sports on lines.com and stay ahead in the world.