As I predicted earlier this week, MLB waited to suspend baseball operations until after another major North American league decided to take decisive action on the spread of coronavirus.
On Wednesday night, the NBA announced it would suspend its season indefinitely following the positive COVID-19 test of Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert. On Thursday, Duke University, a major participant in NCAA March Madness, released a statement that “the school is suspending all athletic activities, effective immediately.” The NCAA later announced that the 2020 March Madness tournament would be cancelled.
Early this afternoon, the NHL announced it would pause the current season as of tonight.
MLB did not announce its own decision regarding the coronavirus outbreak until late this afternoon, after a call with the club owners and discussions with the players’ union. Spring training will be suspended, and the start of the 2020 season will be delayed by at least two weeks.
Statement from Major League Baseball: pic.twitter.com/0bWS5VTRPu
— MLB (@MLB) March 12, 2020
I believe MLB dragged its heels yet again because of greed – the show must go on because money and contracts are on the line! Team owners are reluctant to take the financial hit of losing stadium revenues, even though the possibility of having a cluster of coronavirus cases and deaths linked to a franchise and sports event would be a major reputational risk for franchises and Major League Baseball itself.
The NBA was more proactive in addressing public health concerns related to coronavirus, initially asking teams to prepare to hold games without spectators, but ultimately was forced to suspend operations when a player tested positive, endangering the entire league. MLB has failed to show the same concern for the health of its players and fans. This is emblematic of MLB’s crisis management, which continues to endanger the future of the league. The legitimacy of two recent postseasons has been called into question thanks to revelations of electronic cheating, and now MLB has been indecisive about a major public safety and health issue affecting players and fans.
There is no MLB without fans to support it. Continued disrespect for fans is driving them to follow other sports, and young sports fans are less likely to follow baseball. It is critical for MLB to replace its leadership if it wants to survive the crises that have arisen over the last six months and keep the gravy train rolling well into the 21st century.
Featured Image: Lutsenko_Oleksandr / Shutterstock.com