Holding the NFL Draft is beneficial

Chris Burdick, Sports Co-Editor

  We are going on a month without sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the cancellation of all college spring sports going forward, it doesn’t look like live sports will be back anytime soon. With everyone finding it harder to stay confined in their homes, Americans are looking for something to give them hope for some sort of normalcy. 

  For football fans there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as the National Football League has decided that it will carry out the 2020 Draft virtually this week from April 23-25. 

  The NFL Draft has been going every-year since 1937, and has been televised live since 1980. It’s a day of promise, of hope and of optimism for the future of these 32 franchises. This hope does not reside only in the teams choosing or rookies being chosen, but also in the millions of football fans watching at home. 

  Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all major sports have been cancelled until further notice and it definitely seems like the beginning of the season may be delayed. It has already been stated by league policies that until all 22 participating states drop their social distancing guidelines, no games will be played this season.  

  But the NFL has noticed that they have a unique opportunity here by showing their fans. By switching the draft to an online streaming format rather than the traditional on-stage live event, the NFL can effectively keep the draft going as planned and adhere to social distancing guidelines.  

  The draft has always been a phone-call centered event anyway. Team officials contact their picks via phone from their various “war rooms” in their facilities to inform the athlete that they are being chosen with this next pick, so the movement to a virtual format won’t be an issue. 

  According to NBC Sports, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is planning on overseeing the first round of the draft from his home in New York via in-home camera. The draftees and team executives will be participating from home and fans will be tuning in either on television or via streaming online whichever they choose. The event itself is not needed to accomplish the draft’s primary purpose; to get these players on their new teams. 

  Now, according to the NFL archives, last season’s draft in Nashville, Tennessee drew the highest number of viewers in its history at an average of over six million television viewers at a time, and that’s not counting the 600,000 in attendance. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, that event “resulted in $224 million in economic impact on that city with $130 million in direct spending calculated.” 

  This season’s draft was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it was widely believed that this year’s event was going to surpass its predecessor in both revenue and attendance. This is a huge blow to the city of Las Vegas and the NFL financially. Some contracts between the two parties now are cancelled, but with everyone confined to their homes for the foreseeable future, the draft’s television viewer numbers are going to benefit. 

  The NFL is still a business, and like other sports leagues it thrives on revenue from its views on television, so naturally they love this. They love the attention and the flair that comes with the draft, and from a business standpoint, it would be ridiculous for them to pass up on this opportunity. All other sports are on hold and every sports fan is looking for a shred of hope for their return. Because of that, the NFL has been given the opportunity to be that light of hope for sports fans. 

  Colin Coward, Fox Sports personality, said it best on his show “The Herd”:  

  “Optimism matters. The NFL draft is the only five to six days of the year on the NFL calendar where nobody loses. Everyone wins.”  

  The world needs something to be optimistic about. We need something to stand up and cheer for, to rally our spirits. That’s what is going to get us through this pandemic. That’s what this could give to the American people. Something to cheer for and be optimistic about in a time where we have all been devastated in some way.  

  This pandemic has led to many of the American people losing their jobs as well, and with that comes a loss of security. Those people are the ones in most need of what the draft can provide, a sense of optimism. That is exactly what the NFL and Goodell are attempting to do, provide its fanbase with a branch of hope that says brighter days are ahead and we will get through these tough times. With each selection, a team is creating more hope for their fanbase that that player could be a difference maker, that player could lead their team to the playoffs. 

  Even though a good percentage of the players will underachieve, for those three days fans can get excited about what’s to come from these athletes in the future. It’s that hope and optimism that the draft gives to its fans that makes it powerful in its own right.  

  Each year the draft is remembered for something different but this year, it has another chance to be truly unique in a way that can never be repeated. Yes, there will be no live fan reactions like in the past, but this draft holds more emotional and psychological effects than ever before. We as a country are in a state of panic and are searching for any type or normalcy in this time of uncertainty. For a few hours, fans watching this draft can stop worrying about this virus and all the problems it brings and know that there is something to look forward to when this all blows over.