Nearly every major sports league around the world is suspending play or canceling events due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but not the NFL, for some reason.
The league has been adamant that the 2020 NFL Draft will take place as scheduled, on April 23, and will end on April 25. It won’t be in Las Vegas, however, as the city pulled out weeks ago, refusing to host the major event, due to the health and safety of its residents.
It’s a curious decision, as one would think preventing the spread of a global disease would be more important than a simple event scheduled to take place during the offseason, which could easily be postponed. Let’s face it, no one is concerned with or demanding any football scores today. The league does, after all, have plenty of downtime during the summer, so moving the draft could just fill some of that empty space.
But the NFL clearly does not care about what it could do, and the league appears to be looking to capitalize on the fact that with virtually no sports currently taking place, fans are starved for content, and that could result in astronomical ratings for the draft, if it were to be the first to take place. Right now, if it remains on schedule for today’s football results, it’s looking like that’ll be the case.
Optimizing revenue is of course extremely important to any organization, but is leveraging the health of people around the world — as well as those that work for the NFL, as well as its teams — worth it? Absolutely not.
Only three weeks remain until the draft is slated to begin, and teams — general managers, scouts, coaches, etc. — are stuck with only having to watch tape on prospects, the latest football scores data, and using their gut rather than bringing them into their facilities to work them out and meet with them, or more. Not only that, it’s looking as if they’ll need to rent out a public space or conference room (such as in a hotel), to serve as their temporary draft “war room” for the big event. If that were to happen, the possibility of spreading COVID-19 exists, as someone could be asymptomatic, potentially infecting others around them without even knowing it. Meeting in a small confined area is the exact opposite of “social distancing” or “sheltering in place.”
The NFL could’ve prevented this by postponing the draft, even just for a month, but it elected not to. It’s a horrible decision, and just shows that the league prioritizes revenue above everything else — including the health of players, coaches and league officials.