So much for the idea of sports leagues returning to action in late June or early July: In a conference call with American sports-league leaders, President Donald Trump told them he hopes that pro sports can resume in August or September, with the NFL launching its regular schedule as planned.
The call, which included the leaders of 12 major sports and limited to professional sports (Breeders’ Cup, IndyCar, LPGA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA Tour, UFC, WNBA and WWE, per a pool report; missing was any rep from the NCAA), occurred this morning. We expect plenty more details to emerge as time goes along, but right how reports center on Trump’s hopes that the NFL season starts on time and a warning that other professional sports may not open again until August or September. This timeline would seriously impact the MLB season, and raise into question the viability of the NBA, NHL, MILB and WNBA seasons. From ESPN:
Trump also said he hopes to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, sources said, although it is currently unclear if medical experts find that to be a realistic timeline amid the current coronavirus pandemic.
“They want to get back. They’ve got to get back…. We want to get back soon, very soon,” Trump said of his conversation with pro sports commissioners at his news briefing Saturday. “We have to open our country again.”….
Trump also raised the idea of the leagues working together to lobby for tax incentives that used to exist for entertainment expenses, such as the ability to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes, sources said. That would be a way for leagues to jump-start fans’ ability to return to stadiums in a difficult economy.
Sports/entertainment tickets are already to an extent tax-deductible; presumably this would extend the deductibility to the full price of all tickets purchased to attend a sporting event. Also receiving reassuming and highly unlikely messages from Trump: Little League Baseball:
To all of our youth who are missing the start of their @LittleLeague seasons, hang in there! We will get you back out on the fields, and know that you will be playing baseball soon….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2020
Pouring cold water on Trump’s optimism: Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said he didn’t anticipate pro sports resuming in California by September:
California governor Gavin Newsom pushes back on Trump’s reported comments from today’s call that he believes the NFL season should start on time in September with fans in the stands: “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.” pic.twitter.com/QQ6QxapZ9Z
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) April 4, 2020
“It’s interesting, I have a lot of friends that work in Major League Baseball and in the NFL, they’ve been asking me — in fact, a well-known athlete just asked me — a football player — if he expects to come back, I said, ‘I would move very cautiously in that expectation,'” Newsom said this morning. “So look I’m not here to second guess anybody, but I am here to say this, our decision on that basis, at least here in the state of California, will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our capacity to meet this moment, bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that’s appropriate and right now I’m just focused on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”
Doubtless there will be other politicians weighing in on the immediately future of pro sports in their states and communities. This week there was some optimism in the baseball world that we could see some sort of baseball played by July 4, even if was at spring-training camps sans fans, but Trump’s and Newsom’s statement would apparently put a damper on that talk–for now.
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