Urban News Staff Reports
ESPN recently hosted SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports on Monday, June 15, as the commissioners from six of the top American professional team sports leagues discuss the return to competition in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Get Up’s Mike Greenberg hosted the two-hour primetime special with Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA), Don Garber (MLS), Roger Goodell (NFL), Rob Manfred (MLB) and Adam Silver (NBA).
Greenberg spoke with each league commissioner about his/her sport and the approach to return. Topics included the health and safety of players and workers, the economic impact and plans going forward, games without fans and potential broadcast innovations, the consequences and legacy of “asterisk seasons,” and the potential long-term impact of COVID-19.
In addition, the ESPN special discussed social justice reform efforts among leagues, teams and players that have come to the forefront following the death of George Floyd and with worldwide demonstrations calling for justice, equality and the condemnation of racism.
Other prominent voices who participated in the discussion included ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, athletes Calais Campbell (NFL/Baltimore Ravens – the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year), Damian Lillard (NBA/ Portland Trailblazers), Patrick Kane (NHL/Chicago Blackhawks), Crystal Dunn (NWSL/NC Courage), Brianna Turner (WNBA/Phoenix Mercury) and Alejandro Bedoya (MLS/Philadelphia Union), Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon, ESPN commentator and WNBA player Chiney Ogwumike, and ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman.
“Since sports came to a halt three months ago, we’ve all been eagerly awaiting their return. In this SportsCenter Special, fans will hear directly from commissioners, managers and athletes about the decisions they’ve made and the challenges they’ve faced throughout this unprecedented time, and what the resumption of sports will look like over the coming weeks and months,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production.
Greenberg, previously hosted ESPN’s 2014 Kids and Sports town hall at The Aspen Institute on the role of sports in the lives of children. He also created and hosted the 2018 E:60 special Comeback Season – Sports After 9/11 about the role sports played in healing the nation following one of the darkest days in United States history.
Greenberg added: “We are living through unprecedented times in this nation and around the world, and I look forward to speaking with many of the most powerful people in the industry about the role sports can play in helping to bring about unity, healing and meaningful change.”