Photo of a team playing in an empty stadium. Credit: © Foto: Ra Boe / Wikipedia.
Photo of a team playing in an empty stadium. Credit: © Foto: Ra Boe / Wikipedia.

Coronavirus and Sports

Are teams playing in empty stadiums the future of sports? Credit: © Foto: Ra Boe / Wikipedia.
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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Sports Edition, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice are exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world of sports. What are players doing during the quarantine? Will teams economically recover from having no games? How are the fans doing without any teams to support?

In order to dive into these questions fully, we’re joined by Tobias Moskowitz, PhD, economist at Yale University and author of Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won. We start with the fundamental question: What amount of sports revenue comes from where? Tobias tells us about the revenue earned from ticket sales and stadium purchases compared to TV sponsorships and broadcast rights. We explore why, unlike TV shows, re-runs of old games are not successful. However, we also look at why the docuseries The Last Dance has been so popular. 

Find out if playing in front of an empty stadium decreases home-field advantage. We compare the impact of the coronavirus on certain sports leagues like the NBA, NHL, and MLB, and, why minor league teams have been hit so hard. We also discuss why the fans are the most important aspect of a sports organization. 

Then, neuroscientist Heather Berlin, PhD, drops by to take us inside the athlete’s brain during quarantine. You’ll learn why the sudden lack of competition and routine can lead to mental issues. Once the professional leagues resume action, should athletes wear masks when playing? We ponder how fans will react going back into stadiums, and Heather tells us why individual anxieties play a big part in feeling safe. 

Then, for our last segment, Tobias re-joins the conversation to give some closing thoughts. We investigate whether the quality of games will go down based on the absence of fans at the games. We also break down the idea of a March Madness-style tournament to finish out the NBA season. All that, plus, Tobias explains why there will be a lot of experimentation in the coming months in order for sports to fully be back in swing.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver,

In This Episode

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