Coronavirus

As NFL Draft Arrives, Sports Can Only Make A Play For A New Normal

NFL Makes Play For New Normal With Draft Day

Thursday (April 23) is draft day for the National Football League as the NFL lines up to tackle the new era launched by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the first day of the NFL draft, the challenge for the New England Patriots, the perennial league leaders, is to rebuild its team.

As everybody in the region knows, there will be no Tom Brady to quarterback the Patriots next season. Beyond that, champion kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been released and starring tight end Rob Gronkowski is gone, as are a number of other top players.

Can coach Bill Belichick pull a rabbit out of his hat?

Can the NFL? What will the next season even look like?

As reported by PYMNTS, stadium-focused games  - like football, baseball, soccer and basketball – will not be the same for some time.

Gil Fried, professor and chair at the University of New Haven’s sports management program, surveyed the scene to PYMNTS’ Karen Webster: “It’s night and day from what we’re used to.”

In a time of social distancing, what would baby steps toward normal even look like? Fried tallied up the size of stadium seating areas and charted out COVID-19 rules: “It’s not, you might need to have a seat on either side of you that’s free. It might be two seats on either side – and then one in front, one behind.”

That amounts to a loss of 70 percent of seating capacity. All those tickets that could never be sold add up to a lot of money.

For baseball, the average age of fans is over 50, meaning they may be the most fearful, given that the coronavirus impacts them the most. Teams could then face the challenge of reassuring their fans that it’s safe to go to the ballgame.

In such an environment, players’ salaries could be reduced as teams seek to cut costs and, potentially, conduct games without audiences. Fried added that owners could pull in some additional revenue from eSports, meaning video games.

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