COVID-19

NBA approves plan to return; no deal in sight for MLB

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Jun 5, 2020
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Rob Carr/Getty Images
COVID-19

NBA approves plan to return; no deal in sight for MLB

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Jun 5, 2020
Heard on:
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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When can we get sports back safely during the time of the coronavirus? Pro basketball has just come up with and approved a plan. The NBA season will start on the last day of July with billions of dollars at stake.

But what about baseball? Marketplace’s Nova Safo has the story. He spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

David Brancaccio: What’s the plan for professional basketball?

Nova Safo: They’re going to play games in a bubble, essentially, quarantining everyone involved in Florida with regular testing. They’ll play all the games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World near Orlando with no fans in attendance. The games will be played for television only and will stretch into October. The league is still figuring out what they’ll do if someone tests positive for the coronavirus.

Brancaccio: The NBA suspended play on March 11, and it was the first professional sports league to do so. Do we know the economic pain they’ve endured?

Safo: Players agreed to a 25% pay cut, with provisions for clawing some of that money back later. The league is losing billions of dollars in revenue.
Just to give you an idea: The NBA’s TV contract is worth $24 billion. And it reportedly makes 40% of its revenues from fans showing up in arenas. That’s billions of dollars that’s not coming back any time soon

Brancaccio: And what about baseball? It didn’t even get to start its regular season? Will it have one?

Safo: Baseball isn’t there yet. The players and owners can’t come to terms to begin playing. They’ve been talking for four weeks.

Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, went on ESPN Tuesday and said the scale of the losses is “biblical.” Last season, Major League Baseball brought in almost $11 billion, according to Forbes. Ricketts says revenues are currently $0.

Both sides want baseball back. The players want a longer schedule. Owners want a shortened one, and they want a bunch of pay cuts. At one point there was talk of starting in July, but so far no deal.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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