Understanding the Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Sports Industry

Hey everybody, I'm Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged learning for WorkInSports.com and this is a special edition of the Work in Sports podcast.

We're in a very unique situation right now with the Coronavirus outbreak changing the landscape of the sports industry minute by minute. Multiple sports leagues and long-standing events are being suspended if not outright canceled in an effort to isolate and calm the spread of this deadly outbreak. Star players we know and root for, Hollywood actors, heads of state are coming out as infected by this virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease. 

I want to be clear, we are not panicked, we are looking to the future. These cancellations and suspensions will have an impact on the business of sports and it's time to discuss and prepare for the ramifications.Kenneth Shropshire sports business coronavirus economic impact


Joining me today to discuss the short and long term effects of the coronavirus outbreak is professor Kenneth Shropshire. Mr. Shropshire is the CEO of the Global Sports Institue at Arizona State, and has held consultative roles with the NCAA, Major League Baseball, NFL, NFLPA and the United States Olympic Committee -- Dr. Shropshire thank you for joining me. 


This conversation can break into two different categories – we aren’t doctors so we won’t speculate on the virus itself – but we can discuss what this means for the now, and what this means for the future.

Let’s start with the now.


Questions for Dr. Kenneth Shropshire, CEO of the Global Sports Institute on the Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Sports Industry


1: Is the decision to suspend the seasons of the NHL, NBA, MLB, March Madness and other major events like the Masters and the EPL the very definition of discretion being the better part of valor?  Is this the right move?

2: When leagues do the prudent thing and suspend play, there is an affected class of daily workers. Do the leagues and ownership bear any responsibilities to these workers who depend on these roles for their survival?

3: In the short term, outside of game day staff, will this lead to further-reaching layoffs across sports?

4: Outside of the teams and leagues themselves, who do you see being most affected economically by the suspension of play?

5: Major leagues will survive this, but what about smaller leagues with razor-thin margins for success – like the XFL? the Professional Lacrosse League? Lower-division soccer leagues throughout Europe?

6: I wonder also about the mental health of the athletes themselves – especially college athletes. Men and women competing for championships one day and then the next it is over, or players set to start their spring season, and then poof, that part of their identity is gone – how damaging can this be to them?

7: Looking forward to when teams and leagues return to play because eventually, they will. Do you think they’ll try to make up the lost revenue, or will they have to go the other way and incentivize people to come back?

8: When will we start to see the broader economic impact? Obviously, the stock market is affected immediately, but what about employment? When will the decrease in revenue start to affect jobs and opportunities moving forward?

9: The NCAA tournament brings in over 900 million in revenue to the NCAA – take $900 million of revenue out of the pocket of NCAA athletics – who will this affect most in the long run?

10: I’ve seen it written that Corona is more likely to have a worse economic impact in the US than China – primarily because of our societies propensity to spend their discretionary dollars on social gathering spots like sports, fitness centers, concerts, restaurants --

If this consumer spending stops for a long period of time, will the US potentially face greater challenges in recovery than other countries?

11: After 9/11 there was a massive change in security at arenas – do you foresee any major changes in the way arenas and stadiums are operated after Coronavirus?

12: During the last recession The Economist stated that Sports in particular are, by and large, standing up to recession better than most industries”

Is the global sports industry better positioned than other industries for recovery once CoronaVirus is contained?

By Brian Clapp | March 13, 2020
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