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First Take Debates The Fairness Of NBA’s Return

“During his initial argument, Smith made the point to emphasize that this isn’t just a game when referring to the NBA returning in terms of the jobs that are on the line for those who aren’t players.”

Ricky Keeler

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This week, NBA teams will be heading into the bubble down in Walt Disney World outside of Orlando, Florida to prepare for the resumption of the season. Players have to be feeling the concern of heading into an unknown that has never been done before. And on top of that stress, this is all being done in one of the USA’s COVID-19 hot spots.

New Orleans’ Pelicans guard J.J. Redick addressed those concerns to the media last week in terms of the comfort level or lack thereof that players feel. 

On Monday’s episode of First Take, Stephen A. Smith, Jay Williams, and Dominique Foxworth debated Redick’s concerns and this question was asked: Is it fair to ask players to return under current circumstances?

“That would depend on whether or not it’s fair to ask anybody to go to work in this day and age. If it is unfair to ask anyone to work in this day and age, then of course it is unfair for the players,” Smith answered. “But, if other people are asked to go to work, then it is not unfair for them…We have an economy.”

During his initial argument, Smith made the point to emphasize that this isn’t just a game when referring to the NBA returning in terms of the jobs that are on the line for those who aren’t players.

“It’s not just about games and that’s the thing that drives me crazy and I am not talking about players. I’m not pointing my finger at the players at all. I’m just addressing those who have this mentality: the health of players are at risk just to play a game. It’s not just a game to thousands upon thousands if not millions of people that the games affect economically and monetarily…It’s a reality that isn’t going anywhere. It’s not a popular thing to say, but I am not trying to be popular. I’m trying to be real.”

Foxworth, a former NFL defensive back and later COO of the NBA Players union, agreed with the premise of dealing with unfairness, but told Smith it was wrong that players have to go to work because others have to go to work since he brought up his friends who are lawyers or have office jobs do not have to go to work. However, he did bring up the point about the NBA not being more than just a game:

“The fact of the matter is this isn’t essential,” Foxworth said. “It helps us all, we love it, we like entertainment. I agree there are people around these teams that don’t make a lot of money and need this opportunity. This ain’t essential. You have the opportunity to say I don’t want to go…It’s not fair to ask them to expose themselves.”

This is another conversation that is tough to have, as Williams suggested, because of the unfairness that exists not only for the NBA players, but people working in essential businesses.

“When you compare health to the economy, protecting health is not getting in the way of economic recovery. Protecting health is the route to economic recovery.  There are levels of unfairness and I don’t like this whole conversation all the way around.”

Smith brought up the key word in the question: ask instead of force “because it is a request.” So, the wording of the question can sometimes be a key factor. He added that the unfairness for the players was the lack of a backup plan by the NBA.

“If we want to talk about the unfairness of what the NBA proposed, it’s the fact that they don’t appear to have a backup plan. Had he mentioned that, that would have resonated even more so.” 

The games are still going to go on later this month as Kendrick Perkins brought up on Twitter on Monday, but the unfairness topic is something that has to have been brought up amongst sports fans with their friends and families and it’s a debate that won’t stop anytime soon as we learn more and more about the bubble. 

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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