President Donald Trump Holds Phone Call With Sports Czars As Rumors Swirl Over Seasons Ending And Possibly Cancelled

Bruce Haring

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UPDATE: ESPN, citing sources “familiar with the call,” said President Trump believes the NFL season should start on time.

Trump also reportedly said he hoped to have fans back in stadiums by August and September. The NFL recently shut down all training facilities, but will continue with a remote version of its draft later this month.

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EARLIER: President Donald Trump spoke by telephone today with commissioners of various major league sports to discuss the response to COVID-19.

Details on the call were not made available by the White House, which just released a list of participants to the White House Press Pool. The Pool’s note indicated that President Trump recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, work forces, and fan bases across the nation. In turn, the commissioners thanked President Trump for his national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry.

However, the meeting may have more ominous overtones than those platitudes. With no end in sight to the national COVID-19 shutdowns and an unknown timeline for safety on future mass gatherings, many of the leagues will face a hard choice soon on whether to continue their abbreviated seasons – as is the case with the NBA and NHL – resume training for their regular season (Major League Baseball), or possibly postpone or cancel the entire season (NFL, college football), as training camp time and facilities may be limited.

The NBA is said to be studying an abbreviated playoffs, with Las Vegas one of the targets. MLB is looking at a shortened spring training and a regular season filled with doubleheaders and fewer off-days for its players.

Meanwhile, the NFL – which traditionally needs a longer training camp – is pondering whether it will be able to undertake everything needed to prepare for its full fall season. The NFL refused to postpone its annual draft of college players, set for later this month, although the draft will be conducted by phone instead of the traditional live extravaganza. But the traditional organized team activities for the off-season have not taken place.

Besides the President, Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Andrew Giuliani, Special Assistant to the President and Associate Director of the Office of Public Liaison, participated for the White House.

Sports czars participating included:

Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League
Cathy Engelbert, Commissioner of the Women’s National Basketball Association
Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer
Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League
Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball
Vince McMahon, President of the WWE
Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA Tour
Adam Silver, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association
Dana White, Ultimate Fighting Championship
Roger Penske, IndyCar
Michael Whan, Commissioner of the LPGA Tour
Vince McMahon, President of the WWE
Drew Fleming, President of the Breeders Cup

 

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