Mark Davis is a big dumb idiot, Tuesday edition

If some things about Covid safety are becoming increasingly clear — outdoors is better than indoors, short interaction times are better than long ones, masks are hugely important — there are still a lot of question marks, including how safe outdoor sports are, for both players and fans. For now, most sports leagues look to be committed to restarting this summer, though not all the players may choose to show up: The Colorado Rockies‘ Ian Desmond just became the fourth MLB player to declare he’ll be skipping 2020, something that overshadowed the rest of his eloquent Instagram post focused on baseball’s structural racism, and more defections are likely, as everyone starts deciding for themselves what is reasonable behavior amid a fast-moving epidemic that a month ago seemed to be sparing the South and West but now is very much not.

Of course, if you’re a sports team owner, you get to make decisions for far more than just yourself. And Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis is ready to make all kinds of decisions, based on the latest science — ha ha ha, no, of course it’s based on him wanting to sell tickets, the more glorious tickets the better. And he’s especially steamed that his fellow NFL owners have decided to sell ad signage space on seats near the field this season instead of allowing every single seat to be filled to capacity:

“I can’t imagine telling one fan they cannot attend the opening game of our inaugural season in Las Vegas at the most magnificent stadium that they helped to build, let alone tell 3,500 fans that their seats are gone for the entire season,” Davis said. “Those seats in the front rows are some of our most ardent fans, including members of the famed Black Hole. You think I want to sell advertising on their seats? … We will do everything we can to see that all our fans are able to attend every game this season.”

“They helped to build” is a nice acknowledgement from Davis, given the $750 million he received from Nevada taxpayers for his new stadium, though given that his marketing campaign has been largely geared toward selling tickets to out-of-towners — the Black Hole members mostly still live in Northern California, presumably — maybe that’s not what he’s talking about at all.

But more alarming was the idea that Davis wants to have a full stadium this fall, in a state that is seeing a huge spike in virus cases even as testing rates have not increased. Though he immediately hedged on that as well:

“What Gov. (Steve) Sisolak and the state of Nevada determine to be safe in the face of coronavirus after careful consideration, I’ll abide by,” Davis said. “And at the appropriate time, he may determine that it isn’t safe for 100 percent of the fans to attend. At that point, I have to make a decision.”

If it comes to that, Davis wonders if the best solution might be to play all games without fans.

“Maybe that is the fairest thing to do,” he said. “Maybe it’s all or none, because I’d hate to have to tell any of our fans they can’t go to some or any Raiders games.”

So he’d rather tell all fans they can’t go to games than some fans? Or he just wants to make sure if he can’t sell tickets, no other NFL teams can? (He also griped during his Las Vegas Review-Journal article that “We have potentially 32 different capacities and seating formations. Where is the equity in that?”)

Or maybe looking for any sense in Davis’s statements is a futile scavenger hunt, because there was also this:

While other leagues are creating a bubble component to protect players, the NFL has not. Teams will be in their respective cities, and presumably players and staff will be free to come and go as they please.

“You can keep players from the fans, but you can’t keep players from the players,” Davis said. “That could be our Achilles’ heel. Without some form of bubble, we may be asking for trouble.”

Okay, so to recap: Mark Davis will do everything he can to make sure 65,000 fans are cheek to jowl at Raiders games this fall, but if not he may try to insist that no fans can go to NFL games at all, but players absolutely have to be kept away from anyone other than teammates, such as people in the general public who might be teeming with virus. Which they might have picked up at, you know, some big public gathering, maybe one that involved lots of cheering and shouting that is great at spreading viral droplets? It’s almost as if letting unelected business leaders set public health policy isn’t a great idea — speaking of which, somebody tell Ohio that, wouldja?

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26 comments on “Mark Davis is a big dumb idiot, Tuesday edition

  1. Do NFL owners really think they’ll be able to find 65k people comfortable enough to go to a game 3 months from now? I go to 15-20 MLB games a year and you couldn’t pay me to go to a game right now

    1. The Las Vegases sold out tickets for the season and have the most expensive tickets on stubhub. The average lowest listed price since April for stubhub is $320 for Las Vegas. That is more than the next two highest teams ($145 for the newenglands and $140 for the Seattles). This is the type of demand that super ball winners do not even get. The cheapest listing on stubhub so far is a preseason game against Arizona where you can get it for a mere $90.

      Davis knows that he has a single opportunity to capitalize on being “new” in the Vegas. People want to say they went to the inaugural season. They are willing to spend even if the team loses. He will not get another crack at that.

  2. These days, I have trouble discerning between a total lack of empathy and concern based on one’s selfish interests and a genuine inability or willingness to understand the problems at hand.

    1. Yep. Exactly that. Of course, it’s possible they can’t understand it but wouldn’t care even if they could understand it.

      1. Yeah, it’s both. They don’t understand the problems and they don’t care about the consequences. They also don’t care about the problems and don’t understand the consequences.

  3. All I could think was this is the perfect summary: sports, virus, and black hole. That’s where we are today. But at least there are moments of humor like this story.

    1. I wouldn’t have spotted it if it hadn’t appeared on a site listing players who’ve said they won’t play in 2020. It mentioned that he cited “racial issues inside and outside of baseball among his reasons for sitting this year,” which turned out not to be true, but I guess putting them both in the same Insta post got baseball writers to sit up and take notice.


  4. Appreciate Ian Desmond’s contribution of his well thought out personal thinking and his desire to re-invest in his community and pay it forward.

  5. Gotta love MD. He is truly a fan-first sportsman. Always has been. Reality is the media & other wannabe tyrants are hating on the idea of full stadiums, but the vast majority of fans want to attend games.

    We’ve looked at the science. We see that COVID-19 spread can be prevented with good hygiene (mask or no mask), and we understand that it’s not nearly as dangerous as first thought.

    And as a point of clarification, Davis was talking about PSL sales when referring to fans paying for the stadium. The taxpayer contribution is so that Las Vegas can attract large scale events/concerts and to give the local university a first class football facility.

    1. This is detached from reality on every level.

      Davis doesn’t care about the fans at all. That’s why he tried for years to leave Oakland and didn’t invest a dime into the Coliseum (the A’s made all the improvements in recent years).

      We know beyond any doubt that masks lower the rate of spread, even with other good hygiene practices in place. Washing your hands doesn’t prevent you from spitting all over the place well you yell and cheer. We know that in the US alone millions have gotten sick, nearly 130,000 have died, and that positivity and mortality rates are higher than common influenza.

      It would be fine to live in your own little consequence-free fantasy world your attitudes and actions couldn’t negatively impact others, but spoiler: they can and do.

      1. Not so detached from reality, but his entire wealth is wrapped up the Raiders and if he cannot sell tickets and concessions he’s in major financial straits and cannot support that level of losses. He, more than any other NFL owners, needs to press ahead like nothing happening, because he is personally going to be in a world of hurt otherwise.

        1. He’ll still get TV revenue if they play in front of empty stadiums, so while losing ticket revenue would hurt, it’s a one-time hit.

          I get that Davis isn’t as deep-pocketed as other NFL owners, but it’s my observation that having lots of money doesn’t make rich people any happier about losing some of it.

  6. Ben,

    Who is the “we’ve” and what is the “science”? Please provide links to the peer reviewed medical articles by specialists in the field of infectious disease that are you sources.

    I don’t mind full stadiums of fans.

    What I do mind is overwhelmed hospitals that are continuing to put first responder hospital staff at risk (+600 dead doctors, nurses, staff so far), I mind full morgues, I mind folks spreading the disease further in our communities, I mind the impact of super-spreader events (like football games) further significantly damaging our country’s economy.

    Not a good look for the Davis’ Raiders and the rest of the NFL

    1. brad,

      It’s a virus. There are plenty of resources if you want to read about how biologists believe viruses spread. Viruses die quickly when they lose contact with the human body, be it in the air or on surfaces. Humans develop immunities to viruses, etc. etc.

      Football fans care about avoiding the spread of disease as much as anyone. If this were a high risk virus, then of course we wouldn’t want to be in packed stadiums in the first place. We know now that it’s not high risk, with rare exceptions for the obese and people with preexisting heart or respiratory conditions.

      The protests have (or at least, should have) taught everyone that mass gatherings can be done without putting stress on medical facilities or causing mass fatalities. Time to tell the wannabe tyrants that they can stay home if they want, and football fans can attend games if they want.

      1. Ben:

        Ignoring for the moment your misinformation about viruses (there are plenty of resources where people can read why that’s so), I have a separate question: Who are these “wannabe tyrants” you’ve alluded to twice now?

        1. Neil,

          I am not Brad as a matter of fact not sure I agree its time for fans to return to sports but when you have some governor creating arbitrary and inconsistent rules and then slanders protesters with go-to caricatures on it sympathetic and sycophantic media are you suggesting we should just give these people the benefit of the doubt?

          1. Or when you have some president who completely ignores a once-in-a-century humanitarian crises, provides no leadership (so said governors have to create arbitrary or inconsistent rules), silences the medical experts in his administrations and then spends his days with his thumbs on his phone also slandering protesters exercising their right to free speech (which is apparently reserved for those with the right “right” kind of speech) with go-to links to white power videos…Are you suggesting that we should just open up the country so we can continue to see the infection, hospitalization and death rates continue to climb unchecked?

            Yeah, I’m cool with that.

            See you at the ballpark and then on the COVID floor at your neighborhood hospital. Assuming there is room.

      2. Evidence is that masks make a big difference. This disease is awful for enough percentage or people that it is a bigger concern than seasonal flu. The protesters were mobile and flowing, which is different from sitting next to the same guy for a 3 hour football game. Also many wore masks. Having said that, I might go to an MLS soccer game or poorly attended football game if masks were a requirement. And might be more confident by autumn which is 2 months away.

  7. Mark Davis remains a constant in this topsy turvy chaotic world.

    Mind you, that’s not a good thing… but…

  8. I’ve always wondered how much legwork the league office provided in getting that stadium deal done.

    Because Davis. . . ?

  9. Yes, Mark Davis is dumb but let’s also realize he’s got terrible luck. He moved his team based on a business plan based on people wanting to fly to Las Vegas to attend football games at a sparkling new stadium that was publicly subsidized. It was a tenuous enough plan to begin with before a pandemic cases 1. Air travel to drop by over 90%. 2. Nevada’s unemployment rate to exceed 25% (highest in the nation, 10% higher than the nation). 3. The NFL season itself to be at some risk of cancellation. You can’t come up with that lever of cluster—— without both stupidity and bad luck. Both are necessary but not sufficient.

    He is now on the hook for $1.1B of debt on an empty stadium during a local if not global Great Depression. I believe grief counselors call this the bargaining stage.

    1. Peter the Great couldn’t have said it any better! HAZZAH! (BTW – watch THE GREAT (Hulu) to view power mad lunacy in action..)

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