Noted sports fan Donald Trump will be hosting a conference call with the commissioners of a number of major American sports leagues at noon, according to the White House schedule. Adam Schefter has the full guest list, and MLB’s Rob Manfred is among the invitees.
Scheduled participants on call with Trump:
NBA – Adam Silver
WNBA – Cathy Engelbert
MLB – Rob Manfred
NFL – Roger Goodell
NHL – Gary Bettman
PGA Tour – Jay Monahan
UFC – Dana White
WWE – Vince McMahon
NASCAR – John Middlebrook or Jim France.
MLS – Don Garber.
Notice: No NCAA. https://t.co/ZqKhN6sdGO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
While the planned topics of discussion have not been disclosed, one can assume that the call will have to do with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and how the leagues are responding, and when play might resume. Live sporting events frequently bring tens of thousands of people together, which is why they were one of the first parts of our society to shut down as the disease spread. The manner in which sports returns will be a crucial factor in making sure that COVID-19 is effectively contained.
It’s notable that Vince McMahon and Dana White are on the call. The President has cozy relations with both of them, and both have kept their events going in the midst of the crisis. McMahon shut down the XFL but continues to produce wrestling shows in front of empty audiences at a WWE-owned facility. White has been trying to secure a location for UFC’s planned April pay-per-view event, and has been having trouble getting fighters to agree to participate. He recently said that he was fed up with “coronavirus bullsh**.” White has also spoken with Trump about the pandemic in recent weeks.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported last night that MLB is considering playing the season out by completely quarantining players and staff and playing in front of empty stands. The plan is regarded as far-fetched and a potential logistical nightmare.
President Trump’s messaging on COVID-19 has been shaky at best, and he has repeatedly expressed a desire for businesses to reopen sooner rather than later. Professional sports leagues, of course, are major economic influencers.