By Sunny Cadwallader
The dominoes are continuing to fall.
The XFL has suspended operations. The end. XFL 2.0 is done. All employees have been laid off – on Good Friday, of all things. Quite the heel turn from Vince McMahon (WWE).
But, the XFL isn’t alone.
No March Madness. No spring NCAA sports. No summer Olympics. No start to the MLB and MiLB seasons. The NBA, NHL and soccer leagues around the world have had their seasons interrupted. Numerous sports business conferences cancelled or postponed. Sponsorships pulled across the sports landscape.
And, of course, there have been layoffs. Friday in Arizona, the Coyotes put half of their employees on furlough through June 30, saying in a statement that they don’t expect to have hockey anymore this season and that owner Alex Meruelo will continue to maintain health benefits for the furloughed staff.
It’s not just at the national level.
As my colleague and co-founder, Jose Romero, wrote, “I’m a freelancer, and I don’t get paid if I am not covering an event or writing a story for a paying media company. When it stopped for the all the teams, all the leagues, it stopped for me.”
While we may not have live sports, we still have sports. The NFL, NBA and NHL have all made their league passes available for free for a limited time. CBS Sports Network has aired classic March Madness games over the past couple of weeks.
There’s an ongoing NBA2K tournament featuring NBA players like Devin Booker and Trae Young. Both NBA and WNBA players will be featured in a H-O-R-S-E game this weekend. Liga MX is starting a eLiga MX tournament today. And, a short while ago, it was announced that athletes and celebrities will play in a online poker tournament to benefit COVID-19 relief efforts.
Telemundo, like so many others including ESPN, has increased their talk-format shows. We may not be able to watch sports, but by golly we can talk about them.
Sports leagues, teams and athletes are navigating this life shutdown, this quarantine, like so many of us. Planning for the future with an eye on the present. While some are upset that leagues like the MLB are supposedly planning for a return, it is smart to look at all contingency plans.
Normally, leagues take months and months to plan out all aspects of a season (scheduling, sponsorships, broadcast times, logistical planning). Teams can’t finish their planning until the league does. Thereafter, there’s a trickle down effect. A sport season involves league and team personnel from executives to snack bar cashiers to game officials to parking attendants to social media managers and more.
That’s not even taking into account the game day employees or even the businesses around stadiums and arenas.
When times are tough, sports has been a sort of escape. Seeing a team overcome all odds to win. Watching an athlete go off in a game or match left us in awe. We’ve been left speechless and amazed and even frustrated by sports. It brought us together even when we were opponents.
There was always sports to carry us through.
To borrow a recently used cliche, we are living in unprecedented times. Every aspect of life as we knew it has been impacted by COVID-19.
Yes, there will be sports again. Eventually. And when they return, it may feel like things have returned to normal. But, life isn’t the same now, nor will it be in the future.
People are losing jobs, livelihoods and their lives.
The dominoes keep falling.