ESPN will host a conversation with commissioners from the top U.S. sports leagues on Monday regarding resuming competition amid the coronavirus pandemic.
SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports will air 9-11 p.m. ET on ESPN. Commissioners Roger Goodell (NFL), Adam Silver (NBA), Rob Manfred (MLB), Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA) and Don Garber (MLS) are expected to participate in a discussion hosted remotely by Get Up’s Mike Greenberg.
“We are living through unprecedented times in this nation and around the world, and I look forward to speaking with many of the most powerful people in the industry about the role sports can play in helping to bring about unity, healing and meaningful change,” Greenberg said in a statement.
The discussions will address health and safety for players and workers in a return to play, playing without fans in attendance, potential broadcast changes, and the economic impact the leagues are facing. There will also be discussions on social justice reforms among leagues, teams and players following the death of George Floyd last month while in police custody and the ensuing demonstrations throughout the United States.
“Since sports came to a halt three months ago, we’ve all been eagerly awaiting their return,” Stephanie Druley, ESPN executive vice president, event and studio production, said in a statement. “In this SportsCenter Special, fans will hear directly from commissioners, managers and athletes about the decisions they’ve made and the challenges they’ve faced throughout this unprecedented time, and what the resumption of sports will look like over the coming weeks and months.”
Also expected to take part are Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Baltimore Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, the Philadelphia Union’s Alejandro Bedoya and Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner.
Top-level U.S. team sports have been on hiatus since mid-March due to the pandemic. The NBA and MLS have announced plans to resume play next month at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, and the NFL maintains it will begin its 2020 regular season as scheduled in September. MLB, the NHL and the WNBA have yet to set start dates to begin or resume their seasons.
MLB and its players’ union have remained at an impasse to start the 2020 season. Players are intent on receiving a full prorated share of their salaries, regardless of the number of games played, while the league has dropped the number of games in each of its three proposals.