Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Innings. Major League Baseball has reached its home stretch with the World Series starting this week. The MLB sprinted through the postseason with relative ease, with fans finally back in the ballpark. Everything hasn’t completely returned to normal yet, as TV ratings for the first few games of the World Series have lagged behind prior World Series games.
This week, it was reported that top teams from the five best European soccer leagues would form a European “Super League.” This type of super league would revolutionize European soccer in a way not ever seen before because the top teams in Europe would break away from their domestic leagues. The top leagues in England, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany would lose immense value overnight if the top teams break away. Media and sponsorship deals bank on top teams playing in these leagues and without the top teams, the domestic leagues don’t hold the same value for their partners.
This could be catastrophic for European soccer as a whole. While top teams could get richer, other teams could be left behind, losing out on huge revenue opportunities like playing in the UEFA Champions League, as the new super league would make the Champions League seem obsolete. The only way for the other leagues to succeed is by keeping the promotion/relegation model that provides massive financial assistance to leagues that the new super league bypasses. Preliminary reports expect the super league to form as soon as 2022, but there is serious work to be done to make sure the soccer world remains balanced.
Through October 1st, health and fitness clubs have lost an estimated $15 billion as they have been forced to remain closed to members exercising indoors. It is also estimated that 480,000, or 16% of people employed by the fitness sector, have permanently lost their jobs this year. The problem will likely persist as the weather turns colder and the new flu season begins.
Currently, members of Congress are working to create a recovery bill for health and fitness centers. At this point, however, a recovery bill for gyms has yet to be submitted to the Congressional Record. A stimulus bill may help in the short term, covering rent and payroll, but gyms need their regular members to return to avoid financial ruin. There is no way to predict when the current situation will shift and this winter could prove to be more devastating than the last.
Notable Information From the Sports World:
MLB x Twitter: MLB and Twitter have teamed up to place tweets on some of the baseballs used for batting practice during the World Series. Lucky fans who have their tweets used will get replicas of the engraved baseballs. This engagement is part of MLB’s overall initiative to utilize social media to reach younger generations.
MLB: Major League Baseball has partnered with Star Sports, of India, to broadcast league games and other programming in the country. The deal starts immediately with the 2020 World Series and goes through the end of the 2021 postseason. This comes one year after the MLB opened an office in New Delhi.
Super Bowl LV: The NFL is prepared to move Super Bowl LV in Tampa, FL to March, if necessary. If games continue to be canceled due to the pandemic the league is prepared to extend the regular season so that all teams can play a full regular-season schedule.
Juju x Esports: NFL player Juju Smith-Schuster is creating his own Esports team to reconceptualize how athletes interact within Esports. This new team will do more than incorporate athletes, as it plans to make them integral to the team dynamic, rather than an auxiliary piece.
Youth sports also continue to take a hit during the pandemic. Earlier this summer, Extra Innings covered a similar story about how the pandemic would impact youth sports. Nearly every county has different regulations around sports and the pandemic, and parents feared their child contracting the virus through contact on the field or the court.
Stark numbers are circulating regarding youth sports participation. 29% of parents say their children are no longer interested in sports, a figure up from 19% in June. Since the pandemic, kids now spend 6.4 fewer hours playing sports. Children are now participating in individual sports like golf and cycling, though it will take more than the pandemic to eliminate youth sports entirely. The contraction is severe and ramifications could last well beyond the end of the pandemic.