Arbogast: "I Don't Think We're Back To Normal Until 2022"

Sports will likely look a lot different this fall, Molly Arbogast says, and fans may have to get used to it

The DA Show
May 22, 2020 - 12:37 pm

It remains to be seen when, or if, sports will return in 2020. It also remains to be seen how they will look upon their return.

“The 2020 fall season for all sports is going to look very different,” POV sports marketing President and CEO Molly Arbogast said on The DA Show. “I don’t think we’re back to normal until 2022. I don’t want to be doom-and-gloom, but . . . in the sports world right now there is a lot of contingency planning. I think we have to plan for that type of scenario.”

While fans want sports to return as soon as possible, the coronavirus pandemic may have other plans. 

“It’s not just about developing the vaccine; it’s about making sure that it’s widely available,” Arbogast said. “That takes time. And while we would all love to snap our fingers and say, ‘We’re going to have a vaccine in February,’ that just means we have it. Now we have to give it to 350 million people in the country, and that will take time. Leagues don’t want to be the source of an outbreak, and leagues want to make sure they’re protecting their fans. . . . But I think we have to be realistic. Next summer going into the fall [might not] be exactly like it is today where many states are still in lockdown, but it’s going to be different. Then we’ll be back to normal after the vaccine is widely available to everybody.”

Some analysts wonder if sports will ever truly be back to normal. Given what we now know, will fans ever pack stadiums again? Will they sit like sardines among tends of thousands of other people?

Arbogast says yes.

“There’s nothing like an in-venue experience,” she said. “I don’t think you’re going to get away from that experience. Fans need to be together. It’s part of human nature to want to be able to high-five a total stranger after an amazing play. That will come back. I just think it will be slow to come back.”

If Arbogast’s 2022 prediction for a return to normalcy sounds overly pessimistic, well, it might not be.

“If I had said to you three months ago this is what’s going to happen in America, you would have said I was nuts,” Arbogast said. “I think in three months we’re going to know a lot more, and venues are going to be able to create safe experiences. They’re just going to look a little different. Fans will come back. Fandom does not change, and fans will be back in the stands when the leagues allow them to come back. I really truly believe that.”