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Volume 23 No. 8
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In this together: Sports must lead through crisis

The tone on the phone calls is much different. More hushed, paused, heavy sighs and somber. People searching for answers. People scared.

It’s understandable. We are all feeling those thoughts, as we’ve never seen a crisis like the one we’re experiencing collectively. There is an unsettling dynamic compared to any previous crises. Heightened anxiety, more raw nerves and fear. It’s the larger threat to society — not just to sports — but to health and wellness, safety, employment and economic stability.  

The sports industry must be there for each other, because we are all facing questions about the future of our businesses. How do we sell tickets to no events? How do we sell suites when companies may go out of business? How do we fill venues when they are closed? How do we sell advertising when marketing budgets are the first to be put on hold? What do we do with employees, contractors and freelancers when there are no games to produce? How do we pay staff and keep them employed? How do we know the way ahead?

We’re all feeling this stress, and we don’t have the answers or a playbook. But I was heartened by just how much communication and support there was from industry leaders I spoke to and heard from over the past two weeks. People seeking to help each other, industry cohorts reaching out with words of encouragement and care, and even competitive organizations banding together to come up with collective solutions. 

Most of the conversations started with, “We know this is going to get worse before it will get better. …” But the overriding message was it will get better. It may not end soon, and it won’t end without pain, but it will end. People, and leaders, will be remembered for the way they act in times like these — for better or worse. So, let’s all commit to make the sports industry a leader during this crisis and its recovery. We can do it, together.

We have already seen the outpouring of financial support from players, owners and organizations to assist the most vulnerable. We will amplify those efforts in our news pages. Our leaders face enormous responsibility and pressure. They must pause and breathe, collect themselves, be clear-headed and refrain from acting impulsively. They then must act collaboratively, decisively, confidently and with empathy. They must recognize the fear and uncertainty their employees, colleagues and consumers are facing and lead accordingly. They must prepare for when sports will lead the unification, recovery and enthusiasm around the world. 

My message is simple: You are not alone. We are all feeling this uncertainty. But this industry must collaborate like never before. It’s on us collectively to talk to each other and share ideas, best practices, learnings and failures. Communicate, reach out and find ways our respective organizations can help during this challenging time. Let’s not have the history books say that the sports industry didn’t do its part in leading the world through this unprecedented moment.

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU: Our promise is that our publications will continue to be the outlet for professional, accurate, comprehensive and timely news and information on this crisis. We have made our “Coronavirus in Sports” coverage free and available for everyone to read in Sports Business Daily, putting it outside the paywall. We have created a newsletter “SBJ Unpacks: Weathering COVID-19” that features the latest news and analysis around this crisis, as well as a daily podcast where our Senior Writer Bill King speaks to various experts offering their take on the day’s events. Our coverage will help you navigate the challenges and hopefully offer solutions, answers and forward-looking coverage on the road ahead.

In addition, we will strive to keep the industry connected, which is so vital at this time. We transformed the CAA World Congress of Sports into a series of virtual conferences, under the banner CAA World Congress of Sports Comes To You. The first one will be Wednesday, March 25, from noon to 2 p.m. ET. The virtual event will offer discussions from industry leaders as well as networking opportunity to allow you to continue to conduct business.

You have our pledge to keep you informed and keep you connected. We are here for you, and we appreciate your support. Please share with me your thoughts on how we can help the sports industry through this unsettled time. Stay healthy and stay safe.

 

First Look podcast, with Abe’s thoughts on the state of sports as we navigate this new world, at the 24:16 mark:

Abraham Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.