COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our lives, and that includes sports. It’s safe to say that team spectator sports will be changed forever by this pandemic, even after it’s over. Here are just a few things we can expect.
Less Emphasis on College Athletics
College sports haven’t stopped completely, but there is less of an emphasis on them right now. We can expect to see that going forward, complete with lower salaries for head coaches, smaller stadiums, and lots of expensive amenities for college athletes. This kind of spending has spiraled out of control in recent years, so perhaps it’s a good thing that colleges have had a good excuse to cut back in 2020.
While there might be a quick expansion in major pro sports leagues as owners need an influx of cash, minor leagues will likely shrink due to the pandemic. Many minor league teams won’t have the funds to stay afloat during the shutdown, so many will quietly fold before the next baseball season begins. Smaller colleges may lose some of their team sports as well if they can’t regularly fill stadiums.
New League Calendars
Right now, it’s looking like the postseasons for the NBA, and NHL will go well into the fall, which means their following seasons will begin later in the year. That could be a trend moving forward, especially since there is no important reason for seasons to start when they do. It was all mostly arbitrary, to begin with, so starting a new basketball season in November won’t feel like a huge change after a couple of years.
Embracing the Virtual Space
Like everything else, sports have primarily moved into the virtual world. In addition to team owners holding meetings over Zoom and largely working from home, most sports are being played in empty or nearly-empty stadiums and broadcast on TV or online. Expect to see smaller stadiums as more fans interact with their favorite sports virtually.
There was a time when we thought things would go back to normal once this pandemic was mostly under control, but the end is still a long way off. Sports have changed just like the rest of the world, and some of those changes will likely be permanent.