Ratto: What we have learned, and what we will forget the first chance we get

16 takeaways from COVID-19 lockdown in Sports America

Ray Ratto
May 13, 2020 - 9:46 am
Ratto: What we learned and what we'll soon forget

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

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So here's what we have learned through two months of sports fraying and wheezing its way through Our American Lockdown:

*Major League Baseball's willingness to backdoor a renegotiation of its collective bargaining agreement under the guise of a plan to resume play was so hamhanded that the plan it presented didn't have the revenue sharing proposal that it tried to blackjack into existence, proving yet again that if the sport dies, it will be because the people who profit most from it aren't bright enough to save it.

*The major college football conferences set their own rules and will, when this is over, become their own Balkan countries and interact with or ignore the other conferences. As a result, they will eventually reduce the NCAA to a bank, or just run their own banks and let the NCAA try to split up whatever money it can squeeze out of everyone else.

*In other words, the SEC and Big 10 is already considering a longterm strategy of scooping up the remaining profitable programs and letting everyone else be the Big Sky. At least you know someone is.

*Michael Jordan inadvertently made Jerry Krause a nearly sympathetic figure while allowing people to deductively conclude that Jerry Reinsdorf was the unseen hand who actually blew up the NBA's Fourth Dynasty.

*Then again, this is probably the result of Jordan becoming an owner after the end of his career rather than a general manager.

*The National Football League doesn't need a commissioner because it runs on its own inertia and will continue to do so until the next generation that plays and watches less football reaches a high enough level of disposable income.

*The illusion that Adam Silver is actually in control of the NBA is sport's best new magic trick, mostly because the owners largely understand that the risk of looking like Jerry Jones is much higher than the benefit. That said, Silver is undoubtedly an excellent shield for his employers, and the proof is that the people who cover the league on a daily basis cannot explain who among the owners carries the most weight in any meeting. That is despite the fact that the First Rule Of Power exists in the NBA just like everywhere else — Those Who Pay Salaries Outrank Those Who Receive Them.

*The PGA found time after it created its new tournament-in-a-bubble plan to announce Southern Hills as the venue for the 2030 PGA Championship, an amazing act of faith given the way 2020 is going.

*Dana White is the perfect metaphor for sports in COVID America, and no, that's not to his credit because all he's done is pick up the crown Vince McMahon dropped, kicked and let roll into a sewer grating.

*When the planet is conquered by our alien overlords, it will be done not by destroying the water or food supply, but by destroying our sports venues. In other words, our culture is only as strong as The Smoothie King Center.

*I'm still waiting for someone to want to be the Anthony Fauci of sports thinking, but apparently there's no money in that.

*The major sports that can no longer have crowds are about to find out just what their respective price points are re: pay-per-view packages. In short, we are about to get an answer to the burning question, "If nobody buys Jaguars-Bengals, should the game even be played?"

*Every proposal to resume anything always uses "as soon as it's safe" as a throwaway line when in fact it is the only consideration unless, of course, the concept of player and fan safety is just considered collateral damage to keep the TV people paying.

*But just so we leave on an up-note, this is an opportunity for all of us to rethink all our loftiest rhetorical thoughts about the values, uses and importance of sports above and beyond being rolling profit centers for 100 some-odd billionaires. We can remake the world of sport any way we want because there will be a moment in time when all pastimes will be equal in our eyes and we can make fresh judgments about all of it, including how much we need them and how much they need us.

*Ahh, never mind. You're online trying to buy Jaguars-Bengals. I'll leave you be.

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