By Michael Vescera
The Coronavirus pandemic has put a halt on all recent sporting events due to social distancing regulations. The NBA, NHL, and MLB seasons, along with others, have been suspended indefinitely. This has been a major setback to both organizations who have many employees and dedicated fans who are used to the entertainment of their favorite sporting events. Dana White, the current President of the UFC, has declared he will arrange a “Fight Island” where he will organize UFC events and continue to have fights on a remote island with no spectators. Not only would UFC be the only sporting event airing on television which would result in a large increase in profits due to the desire to see sports by the consumers, but it will help him to keep his previous promise that employees of the UFC will continue to be paid during the pandemic. During recent weeks some sporting organizations are experiencing layoffs, while White has declared he will not be putting any employees out of a job.
Dana White was forced to postpone one of UFC’s most popular events, UFC 249, due to the Coronavirus. Amid this chaos, White has ensured that Fight Island would still be available to host fights. He has also said that he will be able to transport the fighters over to the island earlier than their expected fight dates so they can get acclimated and begin training there. It is expected that Fight Island will become operational is within the next month, with no exact date provided by White. Dana White’s quote, “we will be the first sport back”, signifies his knowledge of the current situation and how it is affecting the market for sports. If he is successful in providing viewers with a sporting event while there are no other sports being aired, he will essentially have taken control over the entire market. Given that pay-per-view is the only available viewing platform, it would typically negatively impact expected revenue. However, since UFC would be the only sporting event being aired, more viewers who would not typically watch UFC fights will purchase the events.
Other Sports such as Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have also been working diligently to resume their sport’s seasons. However, it is more challenging for these sports to resume because there are more people participating in the games at once than with two fighters in the octagon. This makes it more difficult because of the continued social distancing rules. Finding remote places to conduct the games has also been a challenge because of travel restrictions. With the MLB and NHL having 29 and 31 teams respectively, there cannot be just one stadium or arena where the games are conducted and teams must travel to other cities, which is not able to occur at this time. The NHL has said they hope to resume their season and conduct playoffs by mid-July and the MLB has claimed by the end of May they hope to be able to begin their season. With these drastic delays, the return of UFC would be very beneficial to both viewers and the sport during this difficult time.