The rest of this year in the sports world is going to look vastly different than what we’re used to.
There are no March Madness or winter and spring sports. Hockey will be played well into the summer — if it returns at all. They moved the Masters and who knows what will happen with the 2020 Summer Olympics. Major League Baseball teams might need a second spring training, and if they want to fit in all 162 games, we might be watching the World Series in a neutral Floridian stadium on Christmas Day.
What’s happening in athletics right now is unprecedented, and frankly, not having sports on television every night sucks. The greatest annual stretch of sports events were ripped away from us and it isn’t fair — especially to the athletes who worked so hard to perform this year.
That being said, it’s a necessary evil amid a public health crisis. It’s time to start accepting that and looking on the bright side of things.
This is an interesting opportunity for sports leagues in the United States to experiment with alterations to their schedules and get feedback from fans who will have no choice but to understand why it has to be done.
One league in particular poised to potentially benefit from this is the NBA.
Just hear us out:
The NBA’s ratings have been a topic of concern before this whole coronavirus thing came into play, with ESPN and TNT each having seen a 16 percent decline in viewership of the NBA games they broadcast from last year.
Blame it on injuries, young fans resorting to highlights on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, cord cutters or competition from other leagues. It’s probably all of the above, but that’s what makes this season suspension so interesting.
This year, assuming they don’t cancel the rest of the season altogether (cross your fingers), we’re going to get NBA basketball well into the summer.
What is going to happen if the NBA realizes it could push back the season a bit and not have to compete with the NFL for almost four months? What if it sees that, by mid-summer, a majority of people would rather tune into the NBA playoffs than the dog days of the MLB season?
Just look at the way the Summer Olympics or World Cup captivate audiences when they roll around every four years. Do Americans really love soccer or is it just the only meaningful sporting event in July to get excited about?
Think about it. People get sucked into watching cornhole tournaments on ESPN in the summer just because there’s nothing else on. The NBA could capitalize on that annually by starting its season a little later.
Not that it does in most markets anyway, but the NBA wouldn’t have to compete with the NHL’s postseason this way. In July through August, there’s an audience starving for the kind of competition and excitement that the NBA playoffs generate
It’s different, Yes, but at least could be worth the conversation after we see how this all plays out.
And if the NBA Finals in July or August doesn’t work out, oh well. Blame it on coronavirus and go back to normal next year.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images