Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Innings. I would be remiss in not mentioning the historic hire of Kim Ng by the Miami Marlins this past Friday. Ng will become the first female general manager of any “Big 4” sports leagues. Her 30+ years of experience in the MLB will add a new level of interest to an already exciting team heading into the 2021 season.
The 86th Masters teed off last Thursday to the delight of many golf fans around the country who are now sequestered from their own local golf courses. Of course, this year there won’t be fans on the course but anyone interested in catching the action can see it on their screens at home. However, much like every other year, fans are only able to watch the second half of many of the rounds on TV.
Why can’t viewers see morning rounds? Officials from Augusta National don’t allow it. By not televising the morning golfers, officials add to the allure of attending the event as a patron. Expanding the television package would bring millions of dollars to the Club and could benefit the local economy during a year when people are struggling financially. However, the Club has chosen not to take a bigger media deal and viewers are stuck with limited golf coverage.
Officials from Augusta National are sticking to their values as media and television contracts have skyrocketed in recent years. Prior to 1995, the first two rounds of the Masters weren’t televised and it wasn’t until the turn of the century that fans could watch the entire final round on TV.
As the Coronavirus lingers, concerns over the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo persist. The scale of the Olympics will be larger than any other event held during the pandemic with over 11,000 athletes representing 206 countries in one location. Housing this many athletes and staff in a single bubble will be challenging, however, Japan is working hard to run a trial to see if their plans can succeed.
Japan held a one-day, four-country gymnastics event after athletes and staff completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine. This first attempt will determine Japan’s ability to host the Olympics nine months from now. It will take a Herculean effort to pull off the Olympics in the current pandemic climate, but positive news of a vaccine may assist the Japanese Olympics’ officials in this endeavor.
Notable Information From the Sports World:
NASCAR: While all “Big 4” leagues expect to take a loss this year due to the pandemic, NASCAR will most likely turn a profit. NASCAR doesn’t have a collective bargaining agreement and its drivers are independent contractors, giving the sport greater flexibility to cover operating expenses with sponsorship dollars.
NFL: The NFL announced that the postseason would expand to 16 teams if the season is cut short. Players and staffers continue to tested positive and as the season nears its end, the league may lose the flexibility to reschedule games.
SEC: College football is seeing a surge in Coronavirus cases. This week four games in the SEC will be postponed and pushed to the flex week in mid-December. If cases don’t abate, the league will be at risk of canceling games outright.
Golf: A sport that has thrived during the pandemic is golf. This September saw a 25.5% increase in rounds played compared to September of 2019. Not only are people playing more golf, but they are also buying more golf equipment, with sales rising by 42%.
Esports: ESPN is cutting all of its daily Esport coverage. Esports have become a billion-dollar industry and have never been more popular, especially with the pandemic keeping people viewing from their homes.