Tennessee Sports: Is the AHL foreshadowing the future for other sports leagues

The American Hockey League announced that its season is being canceled, and that could be a foreshadow for Tennessee sports in the future.

If you’ve spent a fall in the South, then you probably know that Tennessee sports are a pretty big deal. Whether it’s hockey and basketball towards the end of the year or football season, Tennesseans love to spend their fall watching their favorite sports teams.

That’s not much different when it comes to spring and summer leagues. We are usually watching the Nashville Predators and Memphis Grizzlies gear up for a postseason push in the spring and, hopefully, a playoff run at the end of the spring leading into a great summer.

Minor League Baseball teams throughout the state and not-too-far Major League Baseball teams in surrounding states give our sports fix throughout the summer while we spend the remaining weekends at the Tennessee River.

To say sports are a big deal in the Volunteer State might be an understatement, but we could see sports leagues come to a halt for longer than we previously hoped for. Three major sports leagues are currently waiting to finish or start its season, and it looks like that might not happen with the American Hockey League canceling its season.

The AHL announced on Monday that they will not be canceling the remainder of the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In itself, the NHL’s developmental league canceling its season doesn’t seem like too big of a deal, and it doesn’t affect Tennesseans very much. The only issue is the AHL could be laying down the groundwork and foreshadowing the future for the NHL and the NBA, who both had hopes of eventually finishing its seasons this summer.

AHL President Dave Andrews even outlined how the 2020-21 season could play out, and it will be depending on if fans will be allowed to attend the games. If not, then we might not see an AHL season next year, either.

The NHL and NBA have TV contracts, so they aren’t as dependent on ticket sales, but its still a big selling point for a lot of teams. Without ticket sales, you also lose concessions sales, gift shop sales, and ways to make extra revenue through sponsors.

We have to get to the end of this season before we look towards the beginning of next season for the NHL and NBA, though, and it’s not looking good, at least for one of them.

Coming into this week, it looked like both leagues planned on finishing their season with an abbreviated schedule, whether that was in warmer climates, Las Vegas, or throwing them in Disney World while they’re closed where the teams aren’t near hundreds of thousands of people.

With the AHL moving to cancel the remainder of its season, the same outcome is on the horizon for the NHL, and possibly the NBA. We don’t quite know what way the NHL is leaning, and it’s a difficult decision to make, but I have to imagine that right now, it’s not toward finishing the season.

And if the NHL and NBA both decide to cancel the remainder of its season, then we might not see the MLB play at all this year. It’s looking like a three or four-month MLB season will be all we get out of baseball this year, and it’s unlikely that the MiLB will even get that.

For the fall, that puts the NFL and NCAA football season at risk. For millions of Americans, you can take away the spring sports, but you absolutely can not touch football.

The NFL released its full season schedule last week, so they’re planning on playing a full season with or without fans. For college football, there are some differing opinions in each conference, but if the NFL goes through and plays a full season, I would think that the NCAA would do the same.

There’s a lot at risk here in the sports world, but it’s all in the name of keeping people safe. We might not be able to have 100,000 people in Neyland this fall because it might not be safe, but taking away the 22 players on the field and the many players and coaches on the sidelines are scary to think about.

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