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Abel to Yzerman

Being There Or Watching Them

from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,

Even now, after most of us have accepted the new reality, it still seems unfathomable. We will have sports again, if not by the force of passion, by the force of money. And by most projections, there will be no fans in the stadiums or arenas, not for a while.

Sports could become what it’s essentially been for many people — a TV show. Perhaps as early as July, you could binge-watch an 82-game Major League Baseball schedule. Or hey, check out the other channels showing continuous episodes of the NBA and NHL playoffs.

If it’s the only way to make it work during the pandemic, I suppose we do it. But I’m concerned once the no-fan curiosity wears off, the games will look like stilted exhibitions. And here’s what else is concerning — what if it works too well? What if leagues grow accustomed to the arrangement, and fans find it adequate to sit at home and watch? What if sports entities find the easiest way to address safety issues is by keeping fans away even longer?

I’ve often wondered, if a quarterback falls in a forest of tacklers and no one is there to make noise, did it happen? OK, I’ve never wondered that. And I understand ticket revenue must be recouped. But what if teams find it lucrative just to put up more advertising in the arenas and stadiums with more people watching on TV, theoretically?


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TreKronor's avatar

For the most part, I have always rather watched from home regardless.  There are a bunch of others like me, but there are also a bunch of people who’d rather be there in person.  People will continue to go to games when it’s a possibility. 

In cases like the AHL, you don’t really have a choice anyways.  If you want to see the game, you have to go to it.  And if people aren’t able to come to AHL games, they are going to have to close the league.  THAT’S what I’m most interested in come Fall - if the AHL can figure out a way to come out of this.

Posted by TreKronor on 05/18/20 at 10:44 AM ET

d ca's avatar

Depends on the sport—-football is better viewed on TV (and you can almost buy a HDTV for the price two decent seats) while hockey is better viewed in person (provided you have a decent seat)—-baseball is a mix of the two (esp if you want to see pitch locations).

However, I personally wouldn’t attend an in-person game until there is a vaccine. The risk of infection is too high. It’s the same thing for going to Cedar Point or the others.

I would probably go to the local cinema—eventually, but only for a Sunday early am show where there aren’t normally that many people anyways—and I’d sit as far away as possible from other. But that’s probably where I draw the line.

Some might think that this is too extreme, but: Yesterday was the first day that U of M hospital (AA) didn’t have COVID-19 patients in their step down unit—all were regulated to the ICU.

Others may be less cautious, but I doubt I’m the only one.

btw: the NHL will have to subsidize the AHL (which can be watched via
Watch the AHL otherwise, yes that league will fold or contract. At that point the NHL should probably just buy the league.

Here is a chart that shows AHL attendance per game in the various cities. I just don’t see a way to replace that revenue without having a national TV deal in place (vs an online viewing portal). That’s why I think the league is so vulnerable.

The changes in both league operations and fan attendance is going to be a structural at all levels of sports (even if fans are allowed into stadiums). All those that try to follow traditions and operate as normal will fail.

The new motto should be protect the fans protect the business and that will take time—and be costly to implement.

Posted by d ca on 05/18/20 at 02:06 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com