Mar 15, 2020 - Sports

Mark Cuban predicts social media explosion from bored athletes

Mark Cuban reacts to a call as the Mavericks play the Portland Trail Blazers in Dallas in January. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks owner and "Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban, who quickly announced that he'd pay workers "as if the games happened" during the NBA shutdown, spoke with Axios by email yesterday.

The big picture: The cancellation of sports due to the coronavirus — the NBA, March Madness, MLB spring training and more — is what has hit some Americans the hardest, serving as a reality check as to just how serious this situation is.

Based on what you currently know, what do you predict will happen with the rest of the NBA season?

  • "As long as we can keep our players and staffs healthy and see a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, I think it's likely we play some regular season games and then the playoffs."

You were the first NBA owner to announce a payment plan for hourly employees. Are you surprised some of your fellow owners have yet to announce similar plans?

  • "I'm not going to judge what others do. This is a time when we can show some compassion for the circumstances we all are in and help each other out. Just because someone doesn't make an announcement doesn't mean they are not helping in 100 other ways."

How do you think Adam Silver has handled the coronavirus situation?

  • "He handled it exactly right. All CEOs are working with imperfect information, as all of us are. In this type of situation you adapt based on the data you receive. That is exactly what happened. I'm proud of how we handled it."

What role do sports organizations play in a situation like this?

  • "Sports has a unique role in our communities. It's something people rally around and can bring them so much joy and excitement. That's not something a regular company can do, so we will have to be an agile organization, ready to take on the important role of moving the community forward."

What should teams and athletes be doing during this sports outage to stay connected with fans and provide a sense of normalcy?

  • "You are going to see a social media explosion — Twitch streams, TikTok dances — as players deal with their own boredom and further connect with fans. As for the Mavericks, once things start to normalize, we're discussing having clinics to get kids out and exercising."

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin thinks the NBA season should start in December and end in August — and we might get a preview of the "end in August" part this summer. Would you support Koonin's proposal?

  • "I've been asking for this for 10 years. Our broadcast partners have resisted because HUT (Households Using Television) is lower in the summer. But the TV landscape has changed, and Steve knows that industry well. I think his timing on this idea is great."

For bored sports fans in need of recommendations: What are your favorite sports movies?

  • "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Love & Basketball, Space Jam and every 30 for 30."

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Why it matters: With so many Americans nesting at home, linear TV viewership was expected to spike. But without sports, streaming platforms, video games and other mediums will likely be the big winners instead.

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Driving the news: The Washington Post has redirected some of its sports staff to help with non-sports coverage and, starting this Saturday, the newspaper's daily Sports section will move inside the Style section, per an internal memo (Sunday Sports will continue to stand on its own).

Go deeperArrowMar 19, 2020 - Sports