Sidelines: this week in sports

So there was a big phone call between Donald Trump and all the major sports league commissioners on the weekend where they supposedly discussed the likelihood of resuming pro sports. Apparently the NBA is trying to do a live H-O-R-S-E thing where they have players recording themselves shooting in their home, before another guy tries to replicate it? That seems very anticlimactic. Then again TSN is currently showing a bunch of NBA players playing NBA 2K20 against each other so I guess H-O-R-S-E would be a step up. 

Anyways the sheer thought of Trump, Roger Goodell, Gary Bettman and Rob Manfred all on a zoom call together is very intriguing to me. It’s quite a dangerous combination if you ask me; the last time we had a dozen of some of the most powerful people in the nation in a room together they made Bran king.

Poor Adam Silver. He’s the only commissioner of the big four sports who is universally liked. He probably did not fit in with the others.

It is looking more and more likely that the NBA and NHL will cancel their seasons, which is extremely unfortunate for everyone, but especially those who had a good chance at winning the title. Like the Leafs, right? Ahh, just our luck — the one year we have a real shot at the Cup there’s a global pandemic that barges in and ruins it. 

I never really understood just how gross sports are in terms of germs until now. Steve Nash’s free throw routine included licking his hands before every shot. Then you’d have his spit on the ball and before you know it the guy who inbounds the ball is rubbing his eye. Plus high-fives, sweat, the list goes on. Not to mention the fact spitting is a big thing in baseball, for some reason. It’s kind of remarkable that there aren’t more cases of flus and sickness in pro sports, actually.

Going back to the NBA and NHL though, I would think the last thing either league wants is to have the 2020-21 season become affected by this one. I don’t think it’s wise to try and cram a postseason in in July and August only to turn around and start the following season in October. 

That also brings up another thought: what will attendances look like in 2020-21? Even if this thing gets cleared up by September/October (hopefully) and sports leagues are humming along as per usual, will 20,000 people still show up in the stands? Would you feel comfortable going to a game where there’s 400 people sitting in your section and another 19,000 in the building? Maybe they should implement a ‘Sneeze Cam’ during timeouts where the camera locks in on someone loading up a sneeze. It’d be like the Kiss Cam, but wetter. 

Seriously though, sooner or later some guy sitting near you is going to cough at a game — will the entire section scatter away like a school of fish when a boat comes by or just continue watching? Whatever the case is, the 2020-21 season is still not going to feel ‘normal’ for spectators. Maybe teams will get creative with their giveaways and hand out Bubbleheads at the gates. Instead of the usual bobbleheads, you’ll get a protective helmet like those aliens from The Simpsons wear. You could do a 2-for-1 ticket night so you can ensure that nobody sits in the seat next to you, like Funkhouser did during that one episode of Curb

It actually wouldn’t surprise me at all if teams started implementing an ‘every other seat policy’ for 2020-21. NBA and NHL teams probably wouldn’t do this, as their arenas only hold 18,000ish, but that seems like it would definitely be in play for MLB teams. In fact, the Tampa Bay Rays are not only the smartest team in baseball, but have been so proactive about social distancing that they’ve been having 30,000 empty seats in their stadium for the past decade. 

I’d guess that attendance levels will be down across the board come 2020-21, at least for the first chunk of the season. What will championship parades look like too? At the Raptors one I couldn’t extend my arm out without doinking three people in the head let alone be six feet away from them. 

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