The coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to our regular lifestyle with sports being no exception. But who would think that the pandemic has had an economic impact on sports?
Since the pandemic has gone on longer than expected, not only were many major sporting events postponed or canceled outright, but it’s also forcing teams to make the difficult decision of letting players go, either temporarily or permanently. Furthermore, sports leagues have lost a gross amount of $12.3 million just from going off the grid.
Not all of the sports leagues have been dealing with the pandemic in the same way. The NFL (National Football League), for example, predicts that even though they (and to a greater extent, their partners) are losing billions, they’ll come back on top and better than ever. Chicago sports mogul, Marc Ganis, told The Washington Post that “The NFL is to the sports and entertainment industry the way Amazon is to the retail industry. This has a likelihood of being a one-season problem. So as we get to the 2021 season, the problem will have gone away.”
The MLB (Major League Baseball), on the other hand, didn’t cope so well. Just from suspending baseball games and other activities last season, they’ve reportedly lost $4 billion. Even some broadcasters have been feeling the effects of this pandemic, as employers have been temporarily relieving staffers of their jobs due to the lack of events. Perhaps the most affected are freelance journalists like Victor Rojas. He told Daily Titan, “With no assistance other than a $2,500 loan from Sinclair Broadcasting Group, we’re kind of left on our own to fend for ourselves.” Despite their troubles, the MLB has set aside some money for a good cause. Both the MLB and fellow organization MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) donated a million dollars each to ballpark workers and food banks to help benefit those greatly affected by the pandemic.
The NBA (National Basketball Association), on the other hand, has implemented a bubble, an environment destined to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They’ve put aside $150 million to maintain these little environments. Since the NBA has been having their share of money woes, reports say that these bubbles are taking a toll on the basketball league’s finances, and broadcast partners haven’t been much help. “The whole system is set up on this idea that you’re gonna get $2.6 billion a year from TV,” NBA writer Joe Vardon told radio program Marketplace. “If… the league has to shut this down… that money has to come back.”
And concerning the NHL (National Hockey League), their salary cap had been stuck at $81.5 million since the pandemic canceled games and other events, and is slated to go below that due to the lack of in-person activities. Many had mentioned that although this is a first in hockey history, they’re going to weather the storm and get back on top. “Moving forward it’ll be a little different than it probably would have looked, but that’s all right,” player Tyson Barrie told the CBC, “Everyone’s got to adjust.”
So, what is a strategy all of the leagues can take to make the best of this pandemic and make sure no event like this decapitates their budget? Some suggest reducing the operation costs of underperformed sports and to operate more locally. Some also suggest playing without fans in the stands. As for a few local teams, they look to use technology to continue to keep the spirit of sports alive. As Richard Florida, Lee Igel, Art Caplan, and Patrick Adler suggested in an op-ed for cable network CNBC, “Nothing can fully compensate for a packed stadium or arena… But the virus means we cannot have that back for anywhere from six months to two years.”