If the NCAA fumbles at the COVID-19 goal line, it is going to cost your favorite Cleveland Browns bar too.
It looks increasing likely the NCAA is going to fumble the COVID-19 football at the goal line, and the impact is going to be felt everywhere in America, including by the Cleveland Browns Backers clubs all around the country and around the world. It’s going to make a bad year far, far worse, and not all sports-related establishments are going to survive. The fate of your local Browns Backers establishment may be in doubt.
Up to this point, few realized how much of America turns around college football. It is not just student athletes and the colleges that support them. Sports cafes, including those whose business plans revolve around pro teams, such as Browns Backers, have already been especially hard hit with the double whammy of hits to the hospitality and entertainment industries, as well as sports.
Now, facing the potential loss of college sports for even one season, there is an entire economic infrastructure that supports the fan lifestyle. Part of it is getting fans to games, tailgating and getting them back home, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. College football is a major part of the entertainment industry, and game day expenses are only a fraction of the total economic impact.
In the state of Ohio, sports bars are already constrained by a 10 p.m. cutoff for alcohol sales. Plus, there are other restrictions on how many people can be permitted to occupy the facility at the same time and so on. Tuty’s in Beavercreek, Ohio has outdoor seating, which offers an additional measure of safety against COVID-19, but they still have to comply with the same suffocating rules as everyone else. It is a very difficult time to operate a Browns bar.
Browns bars cannot live by NFL alone. The hiatus’ from MLB, NBA, and NHL have hurt Browns Backers and all other sports bars around the country. The pro leagues, to their credit, have managed to find solutions that, as of August, appear to be working, if not quite in a glitch-free mode.
Fall revenue is going to take a major hit if they cannot offer reasonable sports programming. For many of us, reasonable sports programming means college football, and preferably Division I-A. With the regular season less than a month away, college leagues are folding left and right. It seems unbelievable, but the PAC-12 and Big 10 are ready to give up, due to a chain reaction of events that start with the response to COVID-19 and end up with the NCAA’s fear of unintentionally unionizing the college players. The NCAA is in the impossible position of needing to reach an agreement without acknowledging the players have a voice to agree with.
For that reason, they are kicking the can down the road until spring hoping some mystical revelation will be granted to them (it will not be). In the meantime, the economic consequences will be keenly felt by any number of sports bars and cafes–including our Browns Backers clubs which have loyally hosted us for decades–as well as airlines, hotels, restaurants, taxis, filling stations, merchandisers, clothing retailers, etc.
When North Carolina is playing Wake Forest, say, even though we are miles away from that game and have no connection to the state of North Carolina, people at Tuty’s in Beavercreek are watching that game, and we are buying the cars advertised on that game–things that have nothing to do with football!
The idea the economy can afford to just kiss an entire billion-dollar industry good-bye is very difficult to accept. While the NCAA struggles to obtain mystical revelations to solve its problems, real world businesses will be punished for their foolishness.