Lists

20 Challenges Facing Pro Sports Leagues As They Attempt To Return

Darren - May 21, 2020
Lists

20 Challenges Facing Pro Sports Leagues As They Attempt To Return

Darren - May 21, 2020
Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

7. Relapse Would Hurt All Leagues

In an ideal world, all of this would go away and we’d be back to normal tomorrow. However, that’s not the reality of the situation. Even if it is safe to return at some point in the near future, what happens if this crisis comes back? Until there’s a vaccination, nothing is certain.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

To sum up, if it comes back before that point then does that mean everything shuts down again? This will definitely be at the backs of executives’ minds when they’re planning for their sports’ return. That’s why so many leagues want to finish their schedule this year.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Motivation

For MLB and NFL players, it’s different because their new seasons haven’t begun yet. However, NBA and soccer stars are in a totally different situation. The Premier League season stopped in April after teams played 75% of their games. NBA players are in a similar position with the regular season and playoff games still ahead.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

However, with return dates completely up in the air, how do players stay motivated? NBA superstar LeBron James insists players are ready whenever the call comes. But the truth is that it’s going to be difficult for players to come back, especially if their teams have nothing at stake.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. State-By-State Differences

Each state in the US has its own individual policies for athletic competition. This does complicate the prospects of a return because they’re not all following the same playbook. For example, UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic can’t train in his home state of Ohio, but the UFC has events ongoing in Jacksonville.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the MLB is even talking about moving all of their franchises to Arizona and playing out the season there. This lack of cohesion could create issues in the future. Furthermore, it’s also become a partisan issue, which is frustrating for every sports fan.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Leagues With Empty Stadiums

One of the biggest challenges that leagues and sports have to contend with are empty stadiums. The lack of atmosphere totally changes the dynamic of a game. We’ve already seen this in the German Bundesliga. Meanwhile, there was controversy when FC Seoul of the Korean League filled their stadium with sex dolls.

Mandatory Credit: BBC

However, the UFC has proven that it’s not all bad to have no audience because you can hear every blow and what the corners are saying. But this novelty could wear off, as will fan interest. Meanwhile, many sports teams rely heavily on gate revenue. To sum up, an empty stadium is an expensive giant to feed.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Player Health & Safety

At the end of the day, players are putting their health at risk by stepping out onto the field. Even if they don’t get sick, they could pass on an illness to a vulnerable loved one. In short, this is the single biggest issue for the athletes when conversations about a return begin.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Like the rest of us, athletes have their own opinions. Some are more than happy to get back to work and make some money. However, others, like UFC fighter Rose Namajunas and England soccer international Danny Rose, refuse to return before an antidote can be found.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Politics

United States President Donald Trump wants to restart sports. Obviously not him as an individual, but he wants all of the major leagues to return. However, there is one major problem with that. What Trump wants usually ends with a bunch of people on the opposite side shouting it down.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

We’re not saying we agree or disagree, but there’s no doubt that the discussion of sports’ return is incredibly polarizing. When the most divisive president of the modern era gets involved, things are only going to get more complicated. As long as they don’t start drinking bleach, we’re all good.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. The MLB Feud

MLB players and owners have one of the tensest relationships in sports. Baseball stars are the only athletes in America’s top sports leagues without a wage cap. The new season should have started four months ago. However, the current health crisis obviously disrupted that. But players and coaches are feuding over a 50-50 wage split.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Players believe that they should get their full wages because they are the ones risking their health on the field. However, owners say they are being selfish. Many baseball franchises have furloughed non-playing staff members so there is that moral argument. In short, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be resolved any time soon.

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