Sports leagues’ plans for resuming play, and why probably none of them make sense

At the risk or either extrapolating from insufficient evidence or depressing ourselves or both, let’s play another round of “When will this all end, and what will sports even look like when it’s over?”

All of this makes it really hard to predict what the end game looks like. Given the shape of the curves from Asia and Europe, restarting some kind of pro sports by June or July seems possible, but there’s no way of knowing yet when fans could return, or if play might have to be suspended again after just a few weeks. (Also: What to do about filling in for the numerous players who would presumably have to be under quarantine at any given time, after they or a family member came down with COVID symptoms?) And once that happens, will fans desperately rush to re-fill stadiums, or steer clear for fear of being in large crowds? Will sports ratings return to pre-pandemic levels, or will everyone be too caught up in binge-watching European police procedurals? Will people be afraid to buy tickets now that both sports leagues and StubHub are refusing to issue refunds yet for games canceled by pandemics, even while ticket brokers consider asking for a government bailout?

Only one thing’s for sure: No one knows. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go try to figure out how unemployment claims work now, if anyone really knows that either.


10 comments on “Sports leagues’ plans for resuming play, and why probably none of them make sense

  1. The NASCAR simulated race last Sunday wasn’t all that bad. Having the actual commentators on hand to call it certainly helped make it feel normal. I don’t know how well that would work for baseball or football though.

    • I didn’t tune in to the FIFA 20 simulation of La Liga with actual players at the controls, but I would totally watch right now, especially if they got Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson to call it:

      https://www.barcablaugranes.com/2020/3/21/21188911/live-sergi-robertos-barcelona-takes-on-eibar-in-virtual-la-liga

  2. https://youtu.be/5Xc_-KAAuKU I’m all about the marble league, but I understand the owners are already asking for a new 20,000 seat stadium at Pismo Beach because the economic impact will be YUGE!

    • Marble racing has come a long way since the old tracks-carved-in-sand days:

    • Pepto Pismo! Yes! It’s just a hop, a skip and 4 hour drive away. A favorite!

      Are season tickets available? If not, when? Preferably Club Seating, so I don’t have to sit with the riff-raff.

      You are so right! With my time share there and a favorite drive through, In and Out, my economic impact will be YUGE!

  3. I may be denounced as a heretic, but can’t they do a compact MLB® season using that long forgotten staple from my youth, The Doubleheader?

    • Seven-inning doubleheaders, like used in the minors, are on the table. But if you have too many of them, your players get burned out — I coached a weekend of back-to-back doubleheaders in youth baseball last spring, and in the second game on Sunday my team made like 11 errors.

    • I guess anything is possible… although no games at all seems the more likely outcome at the moment.

      If they do opt for a shortened season (either behind locked doors or with some really weird restrictions on fan seating… insert your favourite White Sox or Marlins joke here), I would hope they would mainly focus on divisional games.

      Thanks to six divisions, it won’t be easy… but it would still be possible to play 80-100 games with, say, 16 games per team in division (64) and limited series against other division within your league. I don’t see a way to have all NL teams play all other NL teams an equal number of games (much less home/away… but maybe neutral sites?). Maybe you include out of division games but, because they can’t be balanced across the league, they don’t count for playoff purposes? It’s going to be strange.

      This would all be much easier if there were still just four divisions but Baseball. We’ll be lucky if their aren’t 8 divisions within 5 years… that way you could have 8 wildcard teams as well. Or 16.

  4. Who has time for stadium swindles in the current economy?
    I’m just finishing up streaming the first season of the USFL’s Boston/New Orleans/Portland Breakers games… (things aren’t going so well there, though I won’t give up on them just yet…)

    320p isn’t the greatest, but at least you don’t get much buffering delay.