COVID-19 has been around for a while now, and, sadly, has no plans to leave anytime soon.
So we have no other choice but to learn how to co-exist with it. The more lasting the pandemic is, the more it seems to be changing everything in society – and the sports are no exception.
We will, of course, recover from it one day completely, and learn what normality is all over again. But will it be absolutely the same? Doubt it.
Here are a few examples of how the world of sports is going to change:
Changes in college athletics
A fast-expanding financial competition in college sports will be over.
This is something that was necessary, to be honest. How much money colleges spend in the main conferences, for example, in football and the SEC, had been out of control lately. These public institutions were throwing into this more and more ridiculous sums of money on stadiums, recruiting efforts, as well as coaches’ salaries and buyouts, etc.
More prosperous programs usually spent the most, which caused fans to pressure their universities to be as serious about succeeding. What was the result? Big checks and growing concerns – this was before the pandemic.
There will be fewer teams
COVID-19 might help quicker transfer in pro sports leagues since the owners need cash in new markets. However, at the other levels (like minor-league and college levels), there certainly will be fewer teams in the future.
Minor-league baseball was already seeing the general possibility that teams will be losing affiliations quite soon. Now the franchises have to survive without this year’s season, which will be an immense threat to them. The situation seems to be typical for other sports as well.
Some non-revenue sports were already cut by smaller conference schools. We can only expect this to continue in the future, causing long-term effects for athletes worldwide.
League calendars’ changes
The scheduled 2020 post-seasons for the NHL and NBA could last long during fall, and this would naturally postpone the start of 2020-21 seasons. And as soon as this happens, it’s not likely to go back. In the future, we’ll probably have seasons that start in the winter holiday season. At the same time, the playoffs will last well into the summer.
The NBA was considering schedule changes before the pandemic even started. When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was asked in May about the late start of the next season, he answered that there’s no need to hurry; the markets can handle it even if the season is delayed to January.
Online is the way to go
This new Internet reality isn’t going anywhere in the future. Similar to most of the businesses lately, athletes have also felt how Zoom meetings can be helpful and productive.
Even though the prospect visits are impossible at the moment, recruiting didn’t stop for college teams. NFL teams choose new players through an offseason program, which doesn’t require them to go to any facilities. Not only that, but the NFL also did a whole draft this way. Lots of college and pro teams have used the virtue of virtual media interviews.
The stadiums will be smaller
Decreasing attendance has been a problematic trend in different kinds of sport. And yes, fans are going to attend sporting events in person again once the coronavirus is over. However, watching them from home will still be convenient after the pandemic. It’s especially true for the young people who had stopped attending sports events anyway.
NASCAR’s future return to the Nashville area is an excellent example of this trend. The stadium in Wilson County has only 25,000 seats. In the past, that wouldn’t have been enough, but not now.