Some states are looking to relax shelter-in-place orders, but that does not mean sports can, or should, resume immediately.
With the relative success of the WNBA and NFL drafts, there are other sporting activities on the summer calendar that should consider a virtual format, for the time being.
Clearly, the 2020 pro drafts have no reason to switch to a stadium format. On Tuesday, the NWHL will start their draft process and, in June, the NBA and NHL will draft their top prospects. The MLB will host its draft in July. By that time, the league could be in full swing.
There are, obviously, benefits to holding a virtual draft. One of them being able to see into the homes and lives of draftees. There were plenty of viral moments from last night’s draft that would not have happened in a normal, formal draft.
Take note, pro sports leagues. We could use more of this content.
Home Run Derby
The midsummer classic may not happen in mid summer, but there’s no reason why we can’t have a virtual home run derby. Social distancing is already part of the game. A field of competitors can set up a pitching machine and see how many they can bomb before time runs out. If ESPN could broadcast a game of HORSE, there’s a way to make this happen.
Speaking of HORSE, why not put on a virtual dunk contest? Clearly, some have the home capabilities to participate. The competition could be judged by a virtual panel and maybe we’ll be able to hear their deliberations in real time.
NBA players are reportedly ready for the season to resume when necessary. Why not practice their dunks, if possible?
UFC Press Conferences
When sports come back, the first league to restart should be UFC. It’s an individual sport with a recent history of trying to hold matches during the outbreak. Fighters will not be able to have a virtual fight, but the league could scrap their made-for-TV press conferences for zoom calls. Imagine two fighters yelling at each other on a video call. That beats attending another zoom happy hour.
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
The Hot Dog eating contest is a signature event on the summer sports calendar. Fourth of July would not be complete without these professional athletes (yeah, I said it) guzzling down watered down dogs on Coney Island. The competition is in doubt, but competitors could still eat from the comfort of their own homes. I can’t think of a more frightening image than a split screen of Joey Chestnut on his 70th dog and Matt Stonie, in his kitchen, jumping to get a bun down. But I know I’d watch, and you probably would too.
Assuming the annual sports awards will stay away from downtown Los Angeles, a virtual show may be intriguing. The homes of athletes and coaches may be more interesting than the awards themselves. But that, in itself, may be a reason to watch.
Tour De France (via Peloton)
The legendary cycling race has been postponed to the end of August. If the lockdown continues through the summer, why not hold a version of the race on the Peloton bike? Not the same, I know. But desperate times call for desperate ways to entertain sports fans. By August, we would watch anything.