Gang, as you would expect, the flood of coronavirus emails was staggering.
So many of you with so many questions.
If I don't get to yours, let me know and I'll try to include it in the comments. (Or even cover it next week. Lord knows, we'll have the time and the space.)
Which leads us to
COVID-19 Part One
Jay, what will you write the 5@10 about now?
This is a great question, and to be honest, I'm not sure.
But the 5-at-10 will go on. It has to. Since we started this puppy in late October 2010, we have had a 5-at-10 every Monday through Friday since. That's 2,455 consecutive editions by my count. (I remember writing a bunch of the early 5-at-10s on one Cam Newton at Auburn, so it was that long ago.)
And it's not just around these parts. It's three hours of chatting with David Paschall on Press Row. It's what do sports journalists turn to. There have been a lot of thoughts and care offered to the hourly workers in and around the NBA by owners and even players (Kevin Love started a fund with $100K).
But the ripples of this are as staggering as the avalanche of cancellations and suspensions in the last 48 hours.
Start at the center. The players, coaches and owners. Then go to the folks at the venues. Now the folks who cover, talk about and report on those activities.
Now expand that to the partners (i.e. sponsors) of those leagues and broadcasts. There were discussions Friday morning that the losses to businesses, networks and advertisers will be in the billions. Yes, billions with a "B."
Sure, a lot of entities like the NBA and the NCAA have catastrophic event insurance, but is there any way to truly recoup what was lost? Plus, we know insurance works. You may cash the dividends now, but the premiums are going to get you later. No one is crying for the big leagues, who have a lot of money in reserve, too, but you also have to think a lot of those reserve funds are in the stock market, which has lost close to 30 percent in the last 10 days.
And don't even look at what this will cost Vegas and the gambling operations considering the timing of this, since a week from today is the second biggest Vegas sports book day of the year behind the Super Bowl and March Madness is the most-wagered-on event — legally and illegally — every year.)
It's head-spinning to take a step back and look at the business of sports, in truth.
As for what I'll write about, well, we're open for suggestions.
COVID-19 Part Two
Do you see a clear winner/loser in this chaos?
Not sure if anyone really wins in this, but when the 30-for-30 on this is done — and considering the open ESPN space for the next month, someone should get on that — here's betting that Adam Silver will come out with history's approval. (Side note: If I'm ESPN, that 10-part Michael Jordan documentary pegged for later this summer would be ramped up and start March 23.)
Hey, while we're there: Here's betting a 30-for-30 marathon is in the works for at least one of the ESPN networks. And, yes, we can see those being ranked around these parts in the days to come.
As for other winners, well, they are hard to locate.
Losers? That's a completely different story.
We all lose in this. All of us, regardless of your favorite sports or sporting event. Regardless of your favorite team or even if you don't follow sports at all.
I understand the decisions, but my heart aches for the high school and college athletes who were staring at their final moment in the sun in the sports they love and give so much to. That's the group that we all truly ache for, right?
Sure, we love our brackets and baseball's Opening Day and Amen Corner and even the draft (I love the draft; you know this), but those events will come back, be it later than scheduled this year or next year.
For those of you who have played a competitive sport for your school, be it middle, high or college, recall your final meaningful game.
I can remember losing in the region semifinal to Villa Rica in the winner of 1989 at McEachern High School. Thought I got fouled in the final seconds down 1. No call, they get the loose ball, and that was it. Drove home from Powder Springs with my best friend in the car. We didn't speak for the 20-or-so-minute drive, and I was squalling like mother watching Sally Fields in the cemetery near the end of "Steel Magnolias."
It was one of the hardest cries of my life and one of the lasting memories of my life.
At the time, I thought it was the worst thing ever. Want to know what would be worse? Instead of having that chance, before the tournament even started, the coaches come tell us that's a wrap. Season done. Just like that.
And don't even get me started on the NCAA deciding to cancel spring sports championships Thursday, three months in advance of the College World Series in baseball and softball. Wow. That has to be a money decision right there. Has to, considering there is no way to truly know how much money the NCAA lost this week with the decision to cancel March Madness.
Seriously, is there a person who deserves a pink slip more than Mark Emmert? As we asked on Press Row on Thursday, someone tell me a decision Mark Emmert has made in one of the most important leadership positions in all of sports that made you think, "Wow, that makes a lot of sense."
COVID-19 Part Three
You taking this seriously now, jack(bleep)!
Well, yeah, but I took it seriously from the start. You guys realize we can take something seriously and still think something is overblown, right? Those things are not mutually exclusive, right?
I still believe that a) if an NBA player had not tested positive for coronavirus, we still would be in a watch-and-see mode, and b) a lot of the decision makers who came to these conclusions were in rooms with actuaries, lawyers and accountants (Hi, Alejandro) who were crunching the numbers about which would be more costly — financially and in terms of public opinion and image — cancelling or suspending games and events or staying on schedule and fans or players catching the corona.
But in some ways, this question is everything wrong with everything around us now.
I had at least five people take email victory laps because coronavirus is shutting down sports and "See you were wrong" and "This is a way bigger deal than you thought."
So were those people hoping for more deaths? Cancelling the entire baseball season?
It also leads us to the politicization of every single thing and event in this country.
And know this: Without sports, there is a real chance that the polarization continues and even expands.
Because, for the divides that our sports rooting interests naturally create, more times than not even those divided loyalties generate mutual respect of what being a sports fan is.
Without the unifying distraction that sports offers so many, that attention is going to go elsewhere.
And with all that is going on — and all that is negative going on — the anger is going to grow, the complaining will become louder, and the finger pointing will escalate.
Just think about this: How many folks who normally watch ESPN or the SEC Network or whatever sports that are offered on whatever station will now fall into the gripe-fest and blame games being played on CNN and Fox?
COVID-19 Part Four
TaxSlayer Bowl - early morning TV. (Jarrett) Guarantano did not do much in the last quarter, but Gray did. QB at TN should be wide open. I Like Guarantano as a kid, but ... Beating Indiana does not do much for the resume, but the way they did does help. However, to be down 13 in 4th quarter does not instill great hope for this year. Indiana Kicker helped a bunch. esp missing 1 ep. Pruitt's TO in last secs??? Maybe the new faces will be great. Remember it was Indiana! We choked big time, and Indiana was Indiana. Thanks to Corona, I would never have rewatched the second half of this!
Yep, this is going to be the sports realm as we know it. In fact, here's hoping that some of the great games that we don't remember as well as others get brought out of the archives.
COVID-19 Part Five
What does ESPN do now?
We kind of covered this a little bit above, but the direct plans of the four-letter network will be interesting to follow.
And I am afraid that a lot of journalist entities and sports-broadcasting networks will furlough employees sooner rather than later. What is the "Baseball Tonight" crew supposed to do now? And without the revenue coming in from the sponsors who bought the ads for "Sunday Night Baseball" or the "Selection Sunday" show or whatever, well, belts will have to be tightened.
As for the ESPN roster of daily shows, well, let's review.
SportsCenter is fine right now because of the news factor of the announcements and reactions. But is coronavirus 24/7 going to be anything worth anything come next Wednesday? Not sure.
(That's one of the reasons I thought golf and the XFL would try to stick this out. If you can hold a sporting event right now, you are going to get way more spotlight than before. I think that's one of the reasons NASCAR is doing everything possible to try to race.)
I have to believe there will be a lot of simulcasting going on in Bristol. It's hard to see the debate shows having much to discuss, but man, oh man, get ready for a slew of MJ or LeBron, Peyton or Brady, Yankees or Celtics, GOAT chatter.
It's even more perplexing to think what ESPN will do in prime time, considering that we were two weeks from baseball picking up the baton of around-the-clock conversation about your bracket.
As for ESPN radio, well, The LeBatard Show has already been a must-listen for me for a while. It's the show set to thrive in this type of vacuum. It's hard to listen at times to "Golic or Wingo" these days anyway, and the "First Take, Your Take" model does not hold when there are so few talking points around us.
That said, buckle up for a slew of NFL offseason breakdowns, and where is Brady going and NFL CBA analysis. And if college football spring practice continues, well, expect more on that, too.
COVID-19 Part Six
I've got a question for you- can the NCAA Tournament be delayed 30 days? I imagine the NBA is hoping to get their season delayed about 30 days and then pick up again. MLB will do the same. Why can't the NCAA?
I think the logistics of finding aplace to play is too great. Because a lot of those venues host a slew of things from concerts to tractor pulls to plays to anything in between.
Side note: Back to an earlier conversation, Dayton has to be really upset by this, right? I mean the Flyers have the best player in the tournament and a real shot at making history.
Also, speaking of losing, how about the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia? The Final Four, gone. The NASCAR race, finless. The Masters in limbo. The Braves are going to lose home games almost assuredly. The MLS, which in the A-T-L is a big deal. (Hey, at least the Hawks will not be missed by anyone.)
Be safe gang. No picks. No sports.
Not for a long while, sadly.
(I will post this week's Rushmores around noon. Doesn't feel like the right place and time right now. And the questions that were not coronavirus related will keep until next week. Deal? Deal.)
Have a good weekend, friends.