When COVID-19 began its spread across America, we joked about the possibility of a fan-less March Madness. Doctored videos mocked the idea. Fans questioned whether a fanless tournament would even be worth the watch. Yet lost revenue for athletic departments and networks alike made a fanless tournament seem like the last resort.
In the eyes of fans, sports were too big to fail.
Nearly half a year later, we've learned that sports are not, in fact, too big to fail. And what once felt like a last resort for college basketball fans now feels like a best case scenario for fans of college football, MLB, and the NBA.
This past week, Major League Soccer served as a guinea pig for fanless sporting events as the league quietly kicked off its "MLS is Back Tournament" at Walt Disney World. In this podcast episode, Professor Mike Lewis and I discuss implications of soccer's return as well as the brand challenges faced by both Disney and the professional leagues housed within its complex.
In the show's final segment, I break down the potential for a conference-only college football season, and Mike responds to Dan Synder's decision to rebrand the Washington Football Franchise.
Listen to the full episode here: