“If the NBA were on channel five and a bunch of frogs making love was on channel four, I’d watch the frogs even if they were coming in fuzzy.”
— Indiana Hoosier legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight
What would happen tomorrow if all college and professional sports programs were to return to business as normal? Number one is that I would be very happy. I have missed out on such things as March Madness, The Kentucky Derby and The Masters Golf Championship. But in the grand scheme of things, is my happiness really that important? I mean, really? I mean who really needs to see big men knocking each other down or people hitting a tiny ball?
Apparently, a whole of of people are as shallow and easily entertained as me. Not to mention the extra wear and tear on the women in our lives, who are now responsible for much more of their free time being spent entertaining us.
To paraphrase once-candidate George Herbert Walker Bush, who uttered these famous words during the campaign: “It’s all about the economy, stupid.”
A lot of people are missing out on a whole lot of money due to the sport’s shutdown in America. Sports is big business in our country. Make that sports is huge business in this country. In 2018 the amount of television advertising revenue, alone, taken in by the networks carrying the games was $1.32 billion. The American gaming Association, my personal Bible, estimated that $8.5 billion would have been bet on the basketball games in the NCAA Championship Men’s Basketball Tournament. This would have been the first year that betting on the men’s basketball tournament would have been legal.
That would be mere pocket change for the NFL, which is reported to have earned over $8.1 billion, according to the Green Bay Packers financial report of 2018.
The sports industry, itself, also creates somewhere around 456,000 with an average salary of around $39,000 per year. This figure does not include the athletes themselves.
So far it is estimated in a report published on ESPN $12 billion in revenue and the loss of thousands of jobs have already been suffered by sports cancellations, and it estimates that figure will double if college and professional football were to be cancelled this fall.
In that same published report, there has been “even more profound and far reaching” impact on amateur youth sports, which is estimated to be a $129 billion-dollar industry. Per the article credited as by the ESPN staff, nearly 700,000 youth athletes were unable to perform in March, resulting in a financial lost estimated to be as high as $700 million to organizers.
In amateur sports just as with many small businesses, many youth organizations will struggle to survive after things are returned to whatever the normal will be later this year. Needless to say such a disruption of programs will have measurable effects on social issues.
It is just a matter of time before sports both big time professional and amateur ranks will be allowed to begin again. However, at least initially as was seen in last week’s NASCAR event and if you have watched any of Churchill Downs weekly racing, for now it will be without fans buying tickets and turning the turnstiles to fill seats in the stands and putting dollars in the coffers.
And if you have watched any of the nightly talks shows where the hosts and the guest perform without the presence of the studio live audience, well it certainly is a different atmosphere to viewing.
Sports may not be life or death, but it certainly does breathe life into our national economy and provide a much-needed outlet for fans to express their emotions and on bad days try to forget them.
I would argue that sports is even very necessary for the collective strong mental health for a significant percentage of Americans.
So even with my personal happiness and selfish motives aside, I feel certain that the resumption of sporting activities at all levels will be a very good thing. If just for the bragging rights, alone, and to provide fodder for sports fans who will passionately debate their teams and players just as much as people do politics and religion.
Even non-sports fans should welcome some relief from entertaining those of us lost without them. I am not sure what cable system Bob Knight subscribes to in his home. That frog gig might not be all that bad to watch these days.