Time to Re-Think Games Without Fans?

Published March 22, 2020

Before the National Basketball Association suspended its season due to the coronavirus less than two weeks ago (doesn’t it seem longer?) it and the other sports leagues talked about playing games without fans. At the time, the idea seemed ludicrous. Lebron James said he wouldn’t play in empty arenas.

When the coronavirus turned out to be more serious than originally thought, the sports leagues did the right thing and suspended their seasons. When they will resume is anyone’s guess. But it’s hard to imagine it will be okay for tens of thousands of fans to start packing stadiums anytime soon. I would anticipate a more gradual return to normalcy – which brings us back to games without fans.

I am going stir crazy not being able to watch sports. I’m sure the TV networks and teams aren’t wild about the situation either. The faster we can safely get sports back on TV, the better. I might even advocate sports as an “essential business.” If my wife can still work at Target, why can’t athletes – not now but at some point – go back to work, just without thousands of people crammed in the stands?

Yes, these would be played just for TV. But the alternative is to wait until it’s safe for 50,000 fans to jam into the baseball parks of America for opening day. That may not happen this year, people. So, if you want your sports on TV, and if the leagues want to salvage their seasons, they better start thinking again about playing games without fans. What do you say, Lebron?