UFC TAPS OUT ON ‘FIGHT ISLAND,’ WHILE XFL FOLDS
Youth sports get emergency funding to cope with shutdowns caused by pandemic
Bulls of the week: It may pale in comparison to the $75-billion-ayear professional sports industry in North America, but the youth sports sector is valued at more than $17 billion and is arguably worth more to the young people, families and friends who revolve around it all year.
It is both the most vulnerable segment of sport business and the most essential.
Thankfully those qualities are being recognized by governments in most jurisdictions and that’s why the not-for-profits and charities that oversee youth sports in communities across Canada are among those receiving emergency funding and bridge financing during the shutdowns caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As long as we have volunteer coaches, officials and leaders dedicated to sustaining clubs, leagues and associations, the next generation of Canadians will continue to enjoy the benefits of the fun, fitness and friendship that comes with youth sports.
Yet those very same volunteers — and, where they exist, paid professional staff and technical directors — will need to work together smarter than ever to overcome the disruption of the COVID-19 crisis.
Here’s to the celebration and appreciation that will manifest itself when youth sports do begin to come back from the current shutdowns.
Bears of the week: Born a quarter century apart, 74-year-old Vince Mcmahon and 50-year-old Dana White are cut from similar cloths. They are the masters of hype. They trade in hyperbole. They themselves are part of the show. That trifecta has served both of them for most of their notable careers in sports entertainment. Yet despite their powerful clout and longevity in the world of WWE wrestling and UFC mixed martial arts, nothing could save them this week from the bear market that’s enveloping the North American economy, most notably the business of sport.
It’s been a bad week for both Mcmahon and White.
Mcmahon had to call The Undertaker to preside over the funeral of his XFL, which announced it was shutting down operations and terminating all employees Friday.
It’s an open question as to whether XFL 2.0 would have had the capacity to continue much beyond 2020 in the best of conditions, but the novel coronavirus proved to be bad economics, bad timing and bad luck for his second attempt at spring football.
While the NFL prepares for a virtual draft this month and what it desperately hopes will be business as usual come the first Thursday after Labour Day weekend, the XFL joins the Alliance of American Football as the second spring football league to die before completing even one season.
White was (a) prominent in a conference call with U.S. President Donald Trump Sunday; (b) all over the airwaves boasting about UFC’S own “Fight Island” to host televised competitions; and (c) defiantly moving forward with plans for UFC 249.
All three threads came to a halt Thursday when UFC bowed to the rightsholder and sponsor pressure and suspended fight operations for the time being.
In typical White fashion, he proclaimed that his operation will be the first sport back from the COVID-19 crisis, although ESPN will likely make that call when it comes. In a humbling turn of events, Mcmahon shut down and White stood down. Neither was accustomed to it.
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Dana White, president of the UFC, says his operation will be the first sport back from the COVID-19 crisis.