FILE PHOTO: Nov 23, 2019; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reaches for a loose ball as Memphis Grizzlies guard Marko Guduric (23) and Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) look on at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA Today Sports/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Major sports organizations have been butting heads with policymakers over their attempts to bring back spectator sporting events. Many fans and public figures have opposed the possibility of resuming sporting events in ballparks and stadiums too early. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is skeptical of bringing back sports too soon, posing the question “What sports can you do economically without selling a ticket?” Dr. Anthony Fauci, The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has stated that he believes it is “reasonable” to bring sports such as baseball back using extreme social distancing measures.

UFC President Dana White, who has publicly been searching for a way to present a live event, has scheduled the UFC’s return in Florida with three scheduled events within an 8 day period set to begin on May 9. This event was originally scheduled to occur on April 18 on tribal lands at the Tachi Palace Casino Resort, which fell out of the California State Athletic Commission’s jurisdiction. California Governor Gavin Newsom reportedly called top officials at Disney, ESPN’s parent company, in order to stop the event from going forward citing health and safety concerns. The new event is scheduled to take place in Florida, which has deemed televised sporting events with national audiences to be “essential business.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

NBA wants to finish rest of the season; start next season in December – CNBC – 4/21/20
The National Basketball Association is still holding out hope that it can continue its season, including regular-season games, according to Adam Silver, the league’s commissioner. […] “Our revenue, in essence, has dropped to zero,” Silver said during the call. “That’s having a huge financial impact on the team business and the arena business.”

U.F.C. 249 Is Off After Requests From California, Disney and ESPN – New York Times – 4/9/20
An hour before White announced the cancellation, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California had called for the event to be postponed. In a statement, she said that “at best this event ties up medical resources and sends a message that shelter-in-place orders can be flouted” and that “at worst, participants and support staff could carry the virus back to their home communities and increase its spread.”

Dr. Fauci explains why quarantined MLB games are likely to be part of ‘new normal’ – Los Angeles Times – 4/21/20
“I cannot see a return this year to what we consider normal,” Fauci said. “There would have to be some degree of [social distancing]. It could be as stringent as only television or it could in the stadium with significant difference of space between people and even then, wearing a facial cover.”

UFC returns May 9 with first of 3 cards in Florida – ESPN – 4/24/20
The UFC is moving forward with plans to hold three events in Florida within an eight-day period, beginning with UFC 249 on May 9, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Friday. […] “They want to fight. People are hitting us up and want to fight,” White told ESPN on Instagram Live. “We’re putting together three cards in a week. People who want to fight are going to get fights.”

NBA’s ‘bubble’ idea has major holes – NBC Sports Philadelphia – 4/3/20
“It sounds like potentially a bad idea,” Dr. Buckee said in a Zoom interview. “I don’t think it’s realistic to completely isolate and quarantine the players. For a start, there are people who will need to clean their rooms, feed them, wash their clothes, janitorial staff and so forth. And those people will not be protected and they will be interacting with their communities. 

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Dana White on Twitter, 4/27/20: @TheRock misses the @ufc

KD Drummond on Twitter, 4/18/20: Dallas could be NFL’s bubble city in a COVID-19 season; but bubbles pop.. a look at one proposed idea to move the entire league to Texas, and the pitfalls of it all. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Bojana Novakovic on Twitter, 4/4/20: It’s so disappointing that UFC is joining the long line of businesses who are exploiting people for profit during this tragic time. Makes it impossible to be a fan. For anyone doing market research, as much as I want to see UFC249, I won’t be buying it.

Vanity Fair on Twitter, 4/27/20: “I don’t know” if sports seasons will be able to take place later in the year, says Dr. Fauci. “It’s really going to depend on what actually evolves over the next couple of months”

Varney & Co. on Twitter, 4/28/20: What does #Boston #Celtics Center @EnesKanter think of playing #NBA games in a stadium without any fans? #VarneyCo #Basketball #Sports #Coronavirus

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