In a world where the coronavirus pandemic currently rules all, one state is sitting defiantly on a course of maintaining some kind of sporting activity. That state is the aptly-nicknamed, the Sunshine State, or Florida.
Almost all sports fans have had to settle for different kinds of entertainment in the present climate, with the online world experiencing a monumental boom. Indeed, the likes of the best online slots sites were already growing drastically before lockdown, but have now been experiencing increases in traffic due to the lack of outside fun available. For Florida though, live sport is still very much the aim as the lockdown – which is now on a path set towards its end – fails to bring to a halt to all sporting activity.
While the rest of the state maintains a path of phased reopening, Governor Ron DeSantis outlined his determination to allow all professional sports leagues to continue regardless of the earlier curfew, provided the general public cannot spectate. A memo released by DeSantis’ office stressed that those professional sports and media production employees that have a national audience can report for work if the location cannot be accessed by the general public.
McMahon and WWE take advantage
Among those determined to heed this green light was Vince McMahon. The chairman of the WWE had already been committed to shooting live shows, but took it upon himself to continue his stubborn antics more so than ever with the broadcasting of Wrestlemania 36. Now considered an “essential business” in Florida, McMahon went ahead with the event Money in the Bank in early May as the WWE Performance Center in Orlando hosted eight matches.
Gov. DeSantis had been criticized heavily for stalling to announce a statewide shutdown with a stay-at-home order only being called in on April 1. But, his continued support for content such as sports and events has been frowned upon too, despite his pointing to the lack of live content on television screens at present. Even WWE with actual fans has been a serious point of debate for DeSantis.
That controversy has been compounded further by DeSantis’ decision to head into “Phase One” of his reopening strategy as barbershops, restaurants and even gyms begin to operate at a reduced capacity.
Florida could become a sporting hub
But, it’s not just WWE that Florida could become the new home of. Any professional sports organization has the ability to continue operations as they think appropriate. Major League Baseball (MLB), for example, had previously discussed playing regular season games in Arizona. But, Florida could too participate, with its multitude of Spring Training sites being perfect for the opportunity.
That would, however, be more difficult than in WWE, given the fact that professional sports leagues all have to work with their players’ unions on any plans to resume play.
So, whilst the majority of states shy away from even contemplating the possibility of hosting such events and as the phased reopening of economies and a gradual lifting of the lockdown begins, the Sunshine State is quickly emerging as one of the frontrunners to kickstart the American sporting calendar once more.