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Trump names group of US sports executives to government committee

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump is naming numerous US sports league commissioners and senior executives to a federal government committee that will advise on him lifting commercial and societal restrictions amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

During a daily White House briefing on April 14, Trump said he will seek the counsel of 14 executives from across the industry on proper measures to end shutdown provisions currently in place.

The group includes: National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Ladies Professional Golf Association commissioner Michael Whan, US Tennis Association chairman Patrick Galbraith, World Wresting Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon, Nascar vice chair Lesa France Kennedy, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Many of the same executives participated in an April 4 conference call with Trump to discuss the pandemic and sports’ role in a subsequent recovery.

“We want to get our sports back,” Trump said. “We have to get our sports back. I’m tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old.”

Trump said the consultations with the sports commissioners will comprise a mixture of group and individual calls. 

Each of the major US pro leagues are currently on hiatus due to the public health crisis, not staging games and conducting other operational functions virtually. It remains unclear when any of them will be able to resume play, though many of them including the NBA, MLB, and NHL have explored measures that involve restarting play in single-site environments and doing so without attending fans.

But as the delay extends and the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths continues to climb, it is constricting the ability of many sports properties to create contingency plans and alternate schedules. Major League Soccer most recently acknowledged it likely will be “difficult” to complete its just-started 2020 season in full.

The prominent role of sports in leading a hoped-for recovery of US society and economic activity is not surprising, as sports played a key role in alerting the general public to the severity of the pandemic. The respective leagues shut down their operations well in advance of many broader shelter-in-place and social distancing rules now in place.