National Sports Update During COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Kayla Rodriguez (Sports Writer)

National sports came to an abrupt halt back in March and April, slowly though they have resumed. As of right now, 19 of the 32 NFL teams are allowing fans, NBA is aiming for 25-50% capacity for the next season, MLB had roughly 25% capacity during the World Series and wants to continue with fans this next season. There were no fans at the Stanley Cup and the NHL is still undecided about allowing fans. 

With postponed and seasons cut short, loss of revenue was to be expected. The NFL may lose up to 2.7 billion this season in fan revenue alone. The MLB could have lost around 4 billion if the world series hadn’t happened. 

Sports networks revenue drops in proportion to the lost games, from $2.3 billion to $1.2 billion, with an average loss of $980,000 per game for both teams.

The players are going to be hit hard financially by the pandemic. A $1.2 billion loss in NBA revenue would translate to a $600 million hit to the players. For the players that already have buckets full of money, they won’t get much sympathy, but college sports and other staff lose more money, compared to how much money they are making. A lot of staff, food sellers, merchandise sellers, ticket sellers, janitors, etc, have lost their jobs. 

Only 19 out of 32 football teams are welcoming fans into their stadiums, no other sport right now has fans. Who says that allowing fans is a good idea, that it’s safe? Governors, mayors, basically if the local officials say it’s okay, doors will open.

When the basketball season starts, then baseball, and assuming some fans will be allowed, will they? One of the earliest horror stories of the pandemic was a February soccer game in Italy where 40,000 fans went to see Atalanta beat Valencia 4-1 in the Champions League. A few weeks after the game, cases skyrocketed in Lombardy and Bergamo, and it was estimated that nearly 1,000 people may have died as a result of that game alone. This event was an important reason behind American sports being scared to have fans

 Sports have increasingly relied on television rights as their main source of revenue over the last decade. ESPN pays $5.6 billion just to air the college football playoffs; the NFL was thought to be eyeing nearly $10 billion in TV-rights deals in 2022. For the most part, in-game attendance isn’t a huge driver of revenue, why would they push bringing fans in, if the rush to bring sports back this year was to save TV contracts?

Although the doors are opening it seems that most fans know better. If a stadium has a max capacity of 63,000, 25% is still over 15,000 people. 

About half of the NBA teams are either not allowing any fans or they haven’t announced their plans. 

Even with the games returning this year, the shortened seasons have cost teams and leagues a lot of money, and they need to get back to some version of normal next season. So far there hasn’t been a massive outbreak of cases resulting from a sporting event in the U.S. but is attending these games worth the risk of a massive outbreak.

 It hasn’t happened yet that does not mean it won’t ever happen. The more people let in the greater the chance of spreading this already monstrous virus. 

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