The current point in the pandemic and “shelter-in-place” orders is to latch on to any piece of good news like a life raft. Sunday, Mark Cuban attempted to do just that with an appearance on CNN:
Mark Cuban: "If we can play with no fans, I'm certainly going to push for it and I think the league will do it. I think we have a moral obligation to do it." pic.twitter.com/12ZvK4TaXv— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 26, 2020
Arash Markazi has the key quote there in the tweet but it’s worth listening to Cuban in full. While I’m going to move on from the “moral obligation” aspect of his response, Cuban, the NBA, and aspects of the world at large have a variety of interests at play in trying to resume sporting activities.
Though the timetable isn’t clear, it seems the NBA and other sports are considering playing without fans if experts deem the process feasible. While teams make a great deal of basketball related income (BRI) from gate receipts, the windfall of salary increases the last several decades for professional sports have come from television deals. Networks, teams, and advertisers all have a vested interest in getting games back on television if it’s remotely possible.
A month ago today, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on CNN as well to note that “the virus makes the timeline,” and I still personally hold to this frame of mind. However, as time passes, more is understood about the virus, its pathology, and how to respond to it, particularly using other countries as models.
In Italy, one of the countries worst hit by the novel Coronavirus, soccer practice will resume in early May with intentions of resuming league play later in the month.
Serie A clubs can return to training on May 4 with individual sessions behind closed doors, the Italian Prime Minister has announced pic.twitter.com/kmI3AJ9anI— Goal (@goal) April 26, 2020
Though the United States is in a very different and difficult situation, it stands to reason that the NBA and other American professional sports leagues hope to learn from what others are doing. While I still hold it would be best if the NBA simply ended the season, it appears it’s too early to make such a declaration.
The NBA will open facilities in some areas soon, per sources according to ESPN, so while clarification on what happens next would be great, it seems we’re all going to wait for things to sort themselves out at least a little while longer.
And Mark Cuban will lead the charge on what’s next, particularly if finishing out the season somehow becomes an option.