We are seeing stirrings from the world of sports for their return, but nothing real tangible as of yet.
The NBA talks of resuming the season in some way and conducting playoffs, perhaps starting in late July in Orlando, where the teams involved could be housed and play effectively. No word on how many teams would participate, how much of a regular season schedule would be played, if any, or anything specific.
The same for the NHL which has sounded out a 24-team arrangement in a few select sites. But details have yet to be worked out.
Baseball is looking ideally at an 81-game schedule, half of the normal regular season slate, but again, the logistics are still in question, including the necessary agreements between the owners and the players.
The NFL is planning to open the season, as scheduled, on the Thursday after Labor Day. There have been no alterations to conducting business as usual, except for an alternate kickoff date of mid-October, if necessary. That would involve no bye weeks for teams, playing regular season games through January, into February, starting the playoffs that month, and holding the Super Bowl at the end of February, playing through, all the way, with no off-weeks.
Other issues, including the big one, fans in the stands, is still up in the air.
The key factor for all the pro sports, and college football, as well, is the gargantuan television money the leagues would receive.
If I have to go out on a limb, I’ll say there will be sports, and they will be televised. How’s that for putting myself on the spot?
Of course, any emergence of the virus for anyone associated with any team, and I’m off that limb in a flash.
The college football question may be the most intriguing of all. Here’s why.
There has been a major discussion concerning the return of students to classrooms.
This dilemma transcends sports. But does it, really?
From my understanding, college football games will not be played this fall if classes on campus are not held.
The facts of life are, that for big-time schools, in big-time conferences, football and basketball provide the major force for school budgets by a wide margin. Maybe it’s the same for smaller institutions, but I’m not sure of that.
Colleges NEED football, so they need the students on campus.
So I think that’ll happen with prudent health safety measures.
I must add, however, that your friendly columnist is not a scientist. As a matter of fact, science was my worst course.
I fought hard to earn a 56 in Physics in my New York State Regents exam in high school. The passing grade was 65.
So, there you have it, as well as an update in what could happen in sports as we move on.
Summing up, a lot of ideas, some further along than others. But nothing we can sink our teeth in.
Perhaps we CAN sink our teeth into something. Not looking ahead, but something just past.
The PGA Tour is preparing to return June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
For the past two weeks, the sport has given us a bit of a tease, a taste of a competition of sorts, to ease our way back into sports TV.
First it was the Skins Game from hallowed Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida featuring four stars from the Tour, playing a match in which each hole is played separately and is won by the player with the lowest score on the hole.
One team paired powerhouse Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. The other duo teamed Rickie Fowler and 21-year old Matt Wolff, a collegiate star who turned pro last year and is known for an unorthodox swing including a left leg kick. It’s a swing that should be more admired than copied.
The real fun of a Skin Game is when neither team wins a hole and the money is carried over until there is a winner. Of course all of it was about charity, and the ongoing battle against COVID-19. With all the bonuses, viewer donations, and winnings on the course, more than $5.5 million was raised.
As a television event, it was uneventful. There was no gallery, naturally, thus, extremely little reaction to the golf happenings.
The players carried their own clubs, wore shorts, as they would for a casual round at any club, and bantered from time to time.
Unfortunately, the show was over-produced, too many features, and too much talk by too many announcers when all we really wanted was to watch the players play and listen to what they said.
Nevertheless, considering the money raised, it was a huge success.
So was this past weekend’s “made for TV” show called “The Match”.
When constant rain engulfed the Medalist course in Hobe Sound, FL, it appeared the sloppy conditions throughout the round would eliminate much of the appeal of two veteran icons of the game, and two veteran icons from a different sport.
Tiger Woods, playing on his home course, teamed with retired quarterback Peyton Manning, while Phil Mickelson had Tom Brady as his teammate.
You remember Tom Brady. The QB of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Peyton and Tiger
As it turned out, despite the conditions, it was a thoroughly entertaining program that featured a tight battle, some humorous moments, and good-natured chatter between the four superstars which was clearly heard and appreciated by the viewer.
That’s because the telecast wasn’t cluttered, and the commentators, including Charles Barkley (entertaining in his own right) didn’t over talk.
The team of Woods and Manning never trailed, but couldn’t finish off Mickelson-Brady until the 18th hole.
Brady was the lesser golfer of the two quarterbacks, and was teased by Barkley, and other sports luminaries on Twitter.
But he had his moment, when his 125-yard shot on the 7th hole, spun back toward the hole and in, earning the former Patriot a par and the honor of making the shot of the afternoon.
The fact that Brady slit his trousers in the process did nothing to diminish his revenge shot to all who had kidded him.
It was a fun day, and while it was nowhere near the sports competition we all crave, it left a smile on your face.
So did the $20 million for COVID-19 relief.
During this time of reflection as we expand our lives while maintaining safety awareness, I reached out to someone who was with me through an impactful part of my career.
Marty Aronoff was my statistician through all the years of my NBA career at CBS and TNT.
With Marty Aronoff
A statistician sits beside you during a basketball game, keeping you apprised of individual point totals by players, including personal fouls and other numbers that could be relevant to the viewer.
When you’re calling a game from courtside, you are in a zone, concentrating on the play on the court. Things happen in an instant, and your eyes and mind have to be keenly focused on the action. You depend on your statistician to keep you up to date on the stats.
I have never been a numbers-machine in my play calling, but when they are significant, you have to include them in your commentary.
Marty who turns 82, next week, was more than a statistician. He was my right-hand-man (even though he sat to my left), and we spent hours during the week on the phone, and then on site prior to the games, discussing the game ahead, the nuances, things to look for, and story lines that would apply.
Every broadcaster has someone like Marty Aronoff, and I did for nearly 25 years.
Though we haven’t stayed in touch as much as I’d prefer, he remains a great friend.
LEADERSHIP • A WINNING ATTITUDE • INSPIRATION • TEAMWORK
Book Dick Stockton for your next speaking engagement or corporate event.