As the NCAA begins the process of sorting out their tribute-to-Hoosiers championship tournament, it’s becoming pretty obvious that they’re making it up as they go. Which we already knew, but it’s always a little jarring to see a multi-billion dollar “non-profit” give the shrug emoji to genuine questions.
It came out yesterday that should a team be struck down by positive tests, they only need have five players healthy or testing negative to play. Which seems...unfair? Then again, there probably isn’t much alternative. You can’t fly in another team, nor shuttle in replacements from the school. The only alternative would be a forfeit, which in such a short tournament comes with its own headaches.
While numbers are trending down, this is still a tournament where multiple teams are going to be staying in the same hotel, even if they’re stratified by floor. And this is what the NHL and NBA did for their bubbles. But one, those are pros. Second, those players had to quarantine at home for a couple weeks before flying in. They had something of a mini training camp. These college teams are coming straight off their conference tournaments and seasons from various places with various protocols and rules and situations.
The way to do this would have been to have teams isolate for 10 days or two weeks either in Indianapolis to get more clear of an outbreak, or at their respective campuses. The NCAA would have had to either move the tournament to an April schedule or end the season early, neither of which they did.
And most of all, these are kids. They’re still likely to do stupid things, because that’s what kids do. Again, numbers are trending the right way, but this all seems a pretty big risk.
As for what happens if a coaching staff were to test positive and have to separate and isolate?
“Honestly, it’s probably something we should talk about as a committee,” NCAA senior VP of basketball Dan Gavitt said.
Well, that’s reassuring.
A couple interesting nuggets out of the NHL-ESPN contract that ESPN made official last night. They will be putting games on ESPN and ABC throughout the season, likely on Thursday nights.
But the real interesting piece is that ESPN is buying the league out of NHL.TV, the out-of-market package. All games in the NHL will essentially be on ESPN+, which is a boon for fans as it’s far cheaper than paying for Center Ice or NHL.TV. That used to cost some $120, whereas ESPN+ is available for just $6 a month. Perhaps ESPN will make the NHL games available on some special tier, but that doesn’t sound like what they’re going for here. Their hope is that with relative affordability, any hockey fan, no matter how casual, would take the plunge on ESPN+ to watch whatever game they want.
It just makes for interesting reading at a time when everyone talks about the amount of entertainment choice available via streaming, and yet it’s starting to get gobbled up by the networks. For instance, NBC took over the WWE Network and is going to put it all on Peacock. You wonder if the NHL’s deal to give everything to ESPN might be copied by someone in the NBA or MLB.
ESPN is paying double what NBC was paying for their deal with the NHL, some $400 million a year — and it’s not even the complete TV package — in order to get all the games on their streaming platform. You can barely imagine what it could cost ESPN or Bleacher Report or the like to get a similar deal from the NBA or MLB. Probably approaching $1 billion a year. And yet you wonder if it can’t happen.
Only Disney or Paramount or Comcast would have that kind of money to throw around, as well as maybe Amazon. Anyway, time is a flat circle.
Always nice to end with a highlight. There are some times when you feel a player shouldn’t be allowed to play certain teams. Connor McDavid getting a night against the Senators would be one of them. But then we get stuff like this?
Funny thing about that is that Artem Zub, no seriously that’s his name, seems to know that pass is definitely a possibility. And yet instead of blocking it he just does an excellent impression of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Perhaps it’ll be an important lesson for him, or his one minute in the sun. Such as it is.