It is Tuesday August 5thas I write this article, and in Rockaway Beach, a big storm (Isaias) is brewing, and the ocean is rough. As a surfer kid, we craved these “big wave” opportunities.
Another 2020 storm has been brewing in the COVID-Era for the “Big 4” professional sports teams; Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey. The incoming “Financial Waves” have been rough and there is no calm in sight! Are they doomed this year? I will break this down as a fan and as a businessman.
AS A FAN: Team sports have always been a huge part of my life. In my youth my father used to shuttle my brother Ross and I from game to game, sometimes attending as many a 3 games in one day. As an adult, I have had season tickets to the Jets, the Brooklyn Nets and Yankees. I have travelled to London twice, once to watch the Jets vs Dolphins at Wembley Stadium, and last summer to watch the Yankees sweep the Red Sox in a converted soccer stadium. Until 2020 I had played in fantasy sports league every year since 1989.
The bottom line is that pro team sports are in big trouble! COVID-19 has upended our daily routines making team sports less relevant for many. Instead of working 9-5 then watching sports at night, most of us are at home all day, and there is no need to watch live sports when we can simply stream it online. We can DVR events to watch at our convenience. I am starting not to miss it. There is a chance all 4 sports will be shut down by October.
AS A BUSINESSMAN: The average annual salaries of professional athletes in Pro sports are; NBA $7.7 Million, MLB $3.82 Million, NHL $2.58 Million and NFL $2 Million per year. The average NBA player earns 140 times the average annual salary of an American worker which is roughly $55,000 per year. If an NBA player decides to “opt out” or “sit out” one game, the player makes $93,000 per game in an 82-game season. How can the average American struggling to provide during Covid-19, feel empathy for the NBA player?
The National Basketball Association has decided to mix politics and sports by painting “Black Lives Matter” on all courts. To me, sports is “an escape” from politics, business, and everyday stresses that we deal with in our daily lives.
Major league baseball, in my opinion, has handled this the worst of the Big 4 sports. I call it the 2020 “Corona Beer League!” Drastic rule changes and 7 inning doubleheaders, are you serious? We played 7 inning doubleheaders in my fastpitch softball league when I played shortstop for Michael’s (of Brooklyn) Catering. This reminds me of the movie “Bronx Tale” when Chazz Palminteri (aka Sonny) tells C (his protégé), “who cares about Mickey Mantle, does he care about you, nobody cares.” Baseball took 10 years to recover from the strike-shortened 1993-94 season.
This week there has been an outbreak on the St. Louis Cardinals, joining Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins. If there are one or two more team outbreaks, I see the season being scrapped before the end of September. Players can “opt out” and still get paid 3 times more than the average American for “not playing.” Can you imagine if we go tell our bosses we are “opting out” so give us a percentage of our salary and we will do something else in the meantime?
I personally have been battling with “Bold Tickets” to get a full refund for the Yankee vs K.C. Royals tickets for the Tuesday June 10th game that was never played. The boys were graduating on June 9th, so this was going to be special. Instead, I have been double-talked by Bold Tickets, who are giving me 12 months to spend a $1500 “credit” to purchase a “donut hole.” I will be reaching out to NBC’s “Better Get Baquero,” and let you know how that goes.
If MLB is cancelled, think about the ripple effect for the support businesses and the ecosystems surrounding the ballparks. Take the Yankees for example. What happens to Stan’s and the other bars and restaurants surrounding the stadium? What about tailgating, the vendors, memorabilia sellers and parking lot attendants etc.?
The NHL (National Hockey League) has handled this the best, in my opinion. Commissioner Gary Bettman has been in close contact with Dr. Anthony Fauci and all hockey games are being played in Canada. They are being split between Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and Rogers Place in Edmonton. Is this by accident, of course not! They are unique because all of their support personnel are quarantining “in the bubble.” Canada has handled Covid-19 much better than the USA and Rogers Communications has paid more money for NHL rights than NBC, which is why games are not being played here.
I don’t see how the NFL (National Football League) has a fighting chance the way the game is played. Both offensive and defensive lines are 2 feet apart and wearing a mask under a helmet will severely impact breathing. Think about this. Fox Sports TV negotiated and put NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Super-bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs into primetime for 6 weeks. What happens if Mahomes decides to “opt-out?” What type of quality football will there be? With the Washington Redskins and Canada’s Edmonton Eskimo’s changing their names, what happens to all their merchandise?
This will all shake out over the next 2 months. With New York State in a $16 Billion deficit, I see sports wagering and marijuana becoming legal very soon so the New York State can tax it! Hopefully, we get a vaccine and the 2021 sports season can get back to normal!
I am very interested in your feedback regarding the Big 4 pro sports. Feel free to reach out to me at Rob@InsuranceDoctor.us and Keep the Faith!!