Last year, baseball games had been significantly affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players who were vaccinated also tested positive. When the 2020 World Series concluded, the Major League Baseball teams were free to sign free agents and make trades to prepare their club for the upcoming season. But the off-season of Major League Baseball proved to be challenging.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the baseball players, as well as the sport’s finances. Without fans in the stands, big-league baseball’s financial stream was truncated. No ticket sales, parking fees, concession stand revenue, and souvenir sales, just media rights revenue was realized. Based on the market, local media rights vary from one team to the other and also from one market to the other.
The Haves and Have Nots for Baseball Players
One of the issues with the asymmetric payrolls of the players means teams can be separated into the haves and have notes. The have notes will not have to deal with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on baseball revenue.
During Major League Baseball no spectators were allowed and every team had taken a different approach to fans in the stands. But in a majority of the cases, teams limit their attendance for allowing social distancing among fans.
Teams are going to suffer a loss of revenue due to the pandemic. This will cause the poorer teams to suffer more. The rich teams have other sources of income and have bigger financial resources that help them weather the storm better.
In 2019, MLB teams had made a profit of $1.5 billion and in 2020, they lost $1. Forbes magazine has estimated the total revenue of MLB and saw that it dropped to $4 billion in 2020 from $10.5 billion in 2019. This meant a cut in the payment for the players.
Impact of COVID-19 on Baseball Games and Players
The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive effect on the teams and their players. Let’s take a look at how-
- The pandemic is likely to reduce the overall spending and payrolls, even for the larger market clubs.
- The loss of revenue during the pandemic might drive a few owners to sell their franchises. This will lead to uncertainty in the local markets and thus, the MLB consensus picks.
- The discord and differences between the players are increasing. All aspects of management-player regulations, standards, operating procedures, and rules will be dictated by CBA. But the CBA is sure to face some potholes and speed bumps at every turn.
- The popularity of hockey, football, soccer, and basketball has provided considerable competition for listening, leisure time viewing, and attendance at the games of baseball. Different sports are competing for viewership, attention, and also attendance.
- Technological advances have given fans the opportunity to choose different ways to listen to or watch different sports during their leisure time. The ultimate result is a continuous erosion of attendance at Major League Baseball and truncated viewing of the game on conventional television networks.
- There is uncertainty when it comes to returning to normalcy. All fans have one question to ask and that is when the public will be allowed to attend baseball games like before. Well, nobody is sure about that. Sure, fans are attending the recent games but a stadium that has space for over 40,000 is allowing only 12,000 visitors. Unused seats are being tied to prevent usage.
As the baseball owners and executives plan for the budget for 2022, they have no idea if fans will buy the tickets once more.
Major League Baseball Tightening Up the Pandemic Restrictions for the Safety of the Players
Many teams had to face mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19 leading to the game suspension. Almost 21 games had been put on pause. Experts have to say that clubs need to be flexible when it comes to playing 60 full games. Teams have to control the outbreaks to keep the season from shutting down.
MLB now requires the players to practice strict social distancing with one another. One of the protocols that had been adopted by the teams was to keep the players apart while they were at the stadium.
Since baseball decided to stage its games in a self-contained bubble, just as many other North American professional sports, it is difficult to restrict players and coaches to conduct games away from the field.
This leaves open the possibility of someone picking up the virus in their regular course of work, even while they exercise some caution. MLB believes that it can do a better job at eliminating the damage.
Players Dropping Out of the Season
Many baseball players sat out the season. This is primarily due to the unknowns and uncertainty surrounding the game at the time of the pandemic.
Even though the bulk of players who had been infected by the virus have recovered completely, some players missed the whole season due to some personal reasons. But the MLB clubs are disclosing less about the status of baseball players who are missing the games due to the pandemic.
The baseball season is going after the pandemic is going to, unlike any other season. In 2020, the regular season had been reduced to 60 games from 162 games, while the number of players in every team had been increased from 10 to 16.
All the players, staff members, and coaches are subjected to extensive testing and monitoring.
Being treated as low-wage workers, the present economy threatens the livelihood of many and jeopardizes the future of the players.
Some of the future superstars and even average baseball players might have to leave the game to look for livable wages in the economy that is seeing stark unemployment.
Also, many players will tell you that the mental challenges of the pandemic outweighed the physical. In 2020, even 60 games felt like a whole season. But it is a navigable journey but the only problem is it is going to be much longer.