The Return of Sports

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Tokyo, Japan. Photo courtesy of Jae C. Hong / the Associated Press

As American’s and people around the world await the return of sports, there have been glimmers of hope to enter into the public mindset through the various professional sports leagues.  Sports leagues that want to see a return to action as much as the populace.  American and world leadership, along with commissioners, franchises, and players associations will all play a role.

The following includes a list of ideas that have been circulated on the return of sports to your screen.

  1. Test-first approach

The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer have discussed a test-first rule before anyone enters their venue.  A logical approach that requires (1) the availability of tests, (2) a process like the Transportation Security Administration airport check, with (3) efficiency and safety.  Interestingly, if enough tests were available at the initial time of the outbreak with reliable distribution, many businesses and people, and the economy in general, would not have had to shut down because prevention through testing would make social distancing less or unnecessary.  With National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver stating that 99% of league fans consume the game digitally during a normal season, it also makes financial sense (more on this below).  We can see some return to normalcy with Boeing returning workers and the State of Texas coming back online.  Amazon is also implementing a test-first approach with a lab.  Notably, the Sounders, Boeing, and Amazon, all have their headquarters or major operations in the Seattle, Washington area.

  1. Sanitation of facilities

Former AEG and current Oak View Group (OVG) CEO Tim Leiweke has stepped ahead of the curve by being innovative through a revitalized sanitation process.  Leiweke says “our job is to regain the trust and confidence of the people coming into our buildings. But we will come back and we will come back stronger than ever.”  OVG, which is behind the Seattle National Hockey League expansion franchise and the redevelopment of the former Seattle Supersonics KeyArena, is looking to government health officials and the most-recognized private businesses in the sanitation industry to make venues ready and safe.  Afterall, change and innovation are the beginnings of all industry revolutions.

  1. Quarantine & warm weather locales

Major League Baseball has discussed quarantining the players and essential personnel to host baseball games in Arizona and Florida with revised divisions that are based on location not National vs. American league (e.g., Spring Training facilities).  The safety-first approach, combined with the two above options, is the most likely scenario for the return of live sports.  Moreover, because gate receipts are nil (e.g., no fans), the Major League Baseball Players Association may need to approve a salary reduction to make the deal possible.  The league has also discussed playing games in Japan where sports are coming back online more quickly.  According to scientists, the warm weather of Arizona and Florida is likely to help reduce virus spreading.

With the above, time, hope, and leadership will tell on whether live sports will return soon.

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