A World Without Sports
Are sports ever coming back? Today, Pele gets some much-needed alone time and calls Michael from a separate room in the Bennett Bunker. They share their thoughts on how strange it is that we’re all living in a world without sports, and Michael leaks the chatter he’s hearing about one way the NFL might deal with this and still try to play the 2020 season.
[00:30] Michael Bennett: Today, you’re listening to Mouthpeace in your humble abode or wherever you at, stop turning into Netflix, tune into some real shit. And that’s Mouthpeace. And today we’re gonna talk about a world without sports. To some people, that’s pretty normal, but to us, it’s not that normal. Sports had been a part of our lives for how long?
[00:57] Pele Bennett: Since we’ve known each other, which is a long time.
[01:00] Michael Bennett: What’s funny about that, the other day my cousin sent me a picture and he sent a picture of me. I had a purple — I was very stylish, too — this was like 1995, 1996. I had the purple jumpsuit on with the first Jordan 1s. I had the Jordan 1s on and I opened up the present, and Pele was like, “what’s that? A basketball?” And it was a football. You know what? I’m gonna share that picture when this episode comes out. Because really, the whole life has been with a football in my hand. That was a long time ago.
[01:38] Pele Bennett: It’s funny that you said that because Michael doesn’t have a lot of photos of him as a child. So I don’t really know exactly any of his siblings exactly what they look like. So for Michael I just reference to Blake, our second child. But that photo was neat to see of you because you were hold old?
[01:56] Michael Bennett: About nine.
[01:57] Pele Bennett: Oh, really? Wow, you were so young. But yeah, you did have a purple outfit on. It was like matching purple top/bottom. It was actually cute.
[02:06] Michael Bennett: Thinking about a world without sports, like, I never thought in American history, even in world wars. Every war. Even in Vietnam, they still had sports going on. 9/11, they still had a football game. They still have all these sports, basketball. And this is the only moment in time that I can remember that possibly the history, it’s at a standstill. The world’s literally at a standstill, and sports will not be happening. And what does that look like for us as Americans, I think we use sports so much for all kinds of — every season, there’s a sport we use sports to use our downtime and they might not be happening.
[02:56] Pele Bennett: It’s not only in the U.S., it’s all over the world. Every country is dealing with the same thing of sport. But then it’s also like, you know, high school or college, you know, just the grade school, you know, all the kids that are involved in their own athletics. It’s like literally sports to the zero.
[03:14] Michael Bennett: Yeah, and it’s kind of like you feel sorry for people who were gonna use sports for their collegiate opportunities to, you know, get an education. You got to think like that’s not going to happen. Or maybe somebody who’s playing the play may be an NFL — luckily, they played a collegiate season last year, so those guys are going to get the opportunity to be drafted, but there still might not be a season. And basketball — I never thought that basketball would end, you know, but the NBA players would have — I think because some of those NBA players got the disease, that was when — if those NBA players did not get those diseases, I think that the season would have kept going on. But as soon as there were possibly, those guys got that. It kind of changed everything.
[03:56] Pele Bennett: I remember when that happened, we saw something like they’re just not going to have any fans in the stadium. But then we were watching TV and we saw there are wrestlers wrestling, and there was nobody — and you know wrestling, it’s like it’s tons of people. It’s noise. And you’re so close, you can see the fans, can read their signs. So for me, that was such a strange, eerie feeling to see a bunch of people performing on stage. No audience.
[04:23] Michael Bennett: And then when you watch wrestling with no fans, it kind of just looks dumb, like I’ve been watching this shit. This is terrible. And I think if that happens to every sport, people are just going to be like, It’s not as fun if there’s not a crowd. There’s not as much enthusiasm. It just looks boring. Like even the people doing the wrestling looked like they didn’t want to be there.
[04:45] Pele Bennett: That actually takes us back to the fans and to people, how like your energy is — you know, you get so much energy from the fans, from people, from people supporting you. So watching the people doing wrestling, it was almost like I had to give it up to them. They did a good job. They were still performing as if there were people there. But that was the eerie part. So I’m just imagining if other sports, you know, when you don’t have those people like for you as a professional athlete, how is it important or did you not realize that importance of fans?
[05:15] Michael Bennett: I think maybe we didn’t realize the importance of fans. I think a lot of times when you just don’t have the fans, at practice, people don’t really take it to the next level. But those fans, the ability for people to see you, that gives people more energy. And a lot of times people feed off their home crowds. I think if you look at Kansas City Chiefs or Seattle Seahawks or teams with great crowds, New Orleans Saints — people feed off that. People think about the Celtics. They talk about playing for the Yankees. This stadium and the environment provides a whole other level of competitiveness. And I think without that, I don’t know if people are going to be able to generate that type of enthusiasm for two hours. It almost feels like it doesn’t even matter. And I think when you watch wrestling, you kind of see that. These guys, first of all, there’s men flipping other men’s faces into their crotch.
[06:14] Pele Bennett: But you kind of do that also in football.
[06:16] Michael Bennett: No, we don’t do that.
[06:17] Pele Bennett: Not on purpose.
[06:18] Michael Bennett: Not like wrestling. But I think without the fans, you kind of look at stuff for really what it is. Without fans and people watching football, people watching practice, people actually might see how violent sports are, or unnecessary they really are. When you start thinking about baseball players getting $500 million contracts and really, if you really watch it, nobody really wants to hit the stands, but we can’t have the jersey sales, we can’t have the TV, then the players’ contracts are going to reduce tremendously.
[06:51] Pele Bennett: I think like if we’re looking at both sides, it also just shows you how sports is used as entertainment. It really is entertainment. So it’s kind of like it makes you think about your view on it. It’s like watching people, you know, have these amazing skills, whereas the actual athlete side of it, where he’s looking to have a job, it’s like, what is professional sports?
[07:14] Michael Bennett: Yeah, cause it’s interesting too, because you see a lot of artists on Instagram and Twitter and all these different forms, they’re able to have these concerts online and they don’t need much. They could just have a couple of friends and it could have a live DJ or producer battle. But in sports, I don’t think they could do that. It wouldn’t be possible for them to be by themselves and have a high production where people want to watch something of value because with sports, that doesn’t happen.
[07:41] Pele Bennett: I mean, you can’t do that because of the social distancing. And so you can’t be by someone. But if you are a basketball player and you want to show us your, you know, how you hoop. I mean, technically, you can do that and post it.
[07:52] Michael Bennett: But that’s boring, t’s not like when they doing a concert, they like put in some work. I mean, they’re competing against themselves.
[07:57] Pele Bennett: It’s the music. So maybe if somebody is trying to play sports and share it, you know, on their social than if they played us some like good music, it’ll help enhance it.
[08:06] Michael Bennett: I also want to know if somebody can find the numbers and tweet us, what is really sports’ piece of pie to the American economy? What does that really look like for cities? Because a lot of cities depend on these games. If you think about fans, money being spent, all of the small businesses that are dependent on NFL, dependent on basketball, baseball, like sports plays a significant part of a lot of cities’ economies — like nobody would go to fucking Green Bay. Just keep it real. Nobody wants to go to fucking Green Bay, Wisconsin, like it’s cold, it’s cheesy. There’s no good food. There’s no good hotels. The place is terrible, right? But with the Packers, people drive all the way from Chicago, Minnesota, to go watch the Green Bay Packers. That city, without that team, is just another small town city in America. And without those organizations having those teams, or those cities having those organizations, it’s just not gonna be the same. If you look at Super Bowl, billions of dollars are generated by the Super Bowl, from TV revenue, from just TV in general and also from people being in the city.
[09:12] Pele Bennett: No, you’re right. I think there’s so many different events that happen within sports. Like you said, the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, all those different things. But maybe also it gives time to like, OK, how can we still thrive without having these events?
[09:25] Michael Bennett: I don’t know, because then you think about in your city, you only have so many people in the city. But when you have like these events, more people show up, more people come, more people are traveling to these cities. There’s flights, the hotels are packed, the restaurants are packed.
[09:39] Pele Bennett: So we were saying that sports are pure entertainment. And then now it’s also pure business.
[09:45] Michael Bennett: Yes, the city can be boosted to have those people come into those teams. And there’s been so many rumors about what teams are going to do, like there’s rumors that the NFL is going to buy, or is going to move to the Bahamas and use all of the hotels in the Bahamas.
[09:59] Pele Bennett: Is this exclusive news?
[10:00] Michael Bennett: Of course it’s exclusive news.
[10:05] Pele Bennett: Who are your sources?
[10:06] Michael Bennett: A real reporter or journalist doesn’t give up his sources, always protect his sources. They’re saying that they might go to the Bahamas and use the Bahamas as a place — if you think about it, it’s really a great idea, honestly, because if you go to the Bahamas, the Bahamas has a lot of hotels and you’re able to create a bubble where everybody can be tested, it’s just the teams. You don’t really have to have the fans if you build great turf fields.
[10:34] Pele Bennett: Well, the fans are there. They’re just not in person. So now, since everything’s virtual, there will be actual networks ways where they can stream live games, but people are still tuning in. So I’m sure if we’re looking at however they do stream it, those numbers are going to even obviously skyrocket. Because now you can catch any game at any time.
[10:57] Michael Bennett: And I think the NFL is probably going to renegotiate their TV contract if that happens.
[11:06] Pele Bennett: What if the NFL just closed it all off? OK, so we’re going to livestream all of our games from our own network. Like they’re not going to participate with anybody.
[11:15] Michael Bennett: They might do that. You never know. They might end up doing that. Every team can have their own hotel. Every team can have their own food and can help another economy. It’s crazy to think about. I think Americans are going to push an envelope because people use sports as a form of entertainment. They also use sports as a reference to the history of the things they love. You know, people are entrenched into their cities’ teams. People are big Chicago Bears fans forever. If you watched the Michael Jordan documentary and you see he came and changed their city. And they will go out on a ledge to watch those games.
[15:49] Pele Bennett: Really, it’s not about the fans not being able to be present at the game, it’s really about how you still have these athletes perform while fans are watching. Fans can still watch. Fans can still purchase. They can still purchase gear. All of that stuff. But really, it’s like what’s the best way to get the athletes back out?
[16:12] Michael Bennett: I think the best way to get the athletes is to secure a safe spot, a safe haven that people feel like they’re not going to get Covid-19. They feel like they’re going to be able to be safe. And that’s going to require a lot of due diligence — if the NFL is to continue, they will actually need help from the government to be able to really create that bubble, have the doctors, all those different things, because it will have to be a high-level to secure that type of access, to make sure that everybody can’t get infected. Because once one guy gets infected, as you’ve seen in the NBA, it’s going to shut down, because more people got it. I think when NBA players got it, Bob Miller has it right now, and what does that do to a team who has a player who could contract the disease? Bob Miller’s a very integral part to the Denver Broncos’ organization, he’s been there for 10 years. Now, what if the team can’t have him? What does it do to his contract? Does he become the not reserve list where he can’t play, but still get paid? I feel like teams are not going to pay guys who contract the disease, not from them, but from society.
[17:24] Pele Bennett: Say that was something that happened, they need to get the healthcare practitioners, everyone involved. I’m like, hold on. That’s going to take a while, because right now they don’t have extra people to be — how important is sports? Is it that important? Where you’re saying, you know, that we’re getting the government involved? That we need NFL’s own healthcare system exclusive just to make sure that they’re not sick?
[17:59] Michael Bennett: It is that important to a lot of people, it’s important to a lot of cities, too.
[18:00] Pele Bennett: But the healthcare part of it. because you’re like, oh, we need to use all the resources.
[18:04] Michael Bennett: I’m saying that the NFL is already tapped into the government, they already got the ear of the government. That’s proven. When they have the Super Bowls, to make certain rules, changes within a city, different guidelines within the city.
[18:20] Pele Bennett: No, I’m not talking about that. I am specifically talking about healthcare. Because right now, we only have so much as it is because our numbers, you know, outweigh each other. And so like if we’re talking about the NFL using —
[18:34] Michael Bennett: Teams already have their own medical staff. Every team has its own.
[18:39] Pele Bennett: No, I know that. But you’re saying the government —
[18:48] Michael Bennett: No, I’m saying the government helps with visas, all that type of stuff. If they were to do the Bahamas, it would take some government assistance. Did you see Trump? He’s trying to have that conference with all the different sports leaders and leagues to figure out how they can get sports going. And I think people really want to watch it.
[19:13] Michael Bennett: So you’re saying the athletes have to go to the Bahamas, that would be everyone. So I’m assuming that that would just be the men by themselves and the women and children would stay back. How I’m envisioning this, like all these families — everybody has kids, their wives — I’m like, this is a whole new world.
[19:47] Pele Bennett: It is a whole new world. No, I definitely think it would have to be at that level. I’m sure the teams will have to set up something like, well, we’ll have accommodation for your family, but you have to pay so much or whatever. People who would have to pick up and move their whole families. I’m sure a lot of families would want to be with their families and feel like they want to be close to their family. Definitely it’ll be like a hard thing because other leagues will have to follow it. We just have to figure out how important is sports to society. That’s really what it comes down to. And that’s the question of the fans, really. How bad do the fans want it? Because the fans are the consumers, and we all know the supply and demand of the consumers. If they want it, then they’re going to find a way to make it happen. But if they see that the consumers aren’t really wanting, aren’t longing for it — and I think they’re trying to do that now when they’re playing those games right now, seeing if people are watching those games. If they made it for free, let’s make it for free. See what the levels are, who is watching it. I think the NBA was trying to do the same exact thing, but I don’t know if the NBA would have the same traction in the NFL. I don’t think so.
[21:14] Pele Bennett: I feel like they could because right now everything is going to be, you know, from our mobile devices, wherever we are, we know once the states continue to open, I know there’s so many different guesstimates and ideas on what it would look like, how it will be ran. But I think it’s also very difficult to tell until it happens.
[21:34] Michael Bennett: But as a family member of a person who would be in that situation, how would you feel to think that your husband would be going out there and maybe catch Covid-19? Would you think that would be a dangerous situation? How would you look at that?
[21:52] Pele Bennett: Is our house on the beach?
[21:53] Michael Bennett: Yeah, it could be.
[21:56] No, I think that there’s a lot of different variables in there. I don’t know. I don’t know. It could go so many different ways. But then if you’re saying that if they put, you know, safety measures to see what that would look like. If there are safety measurements to protect the players, protect the families you know, how far are they willing to reach within that bubble? You know, is it just certain people, just the players? I feel like they would have to be a well package to sell someone to say, hey, we want to take you. But then when the finances come in and you start talking about numbers, then that’s actually kind of scary, where someone is like, you know what I’m willing to risk for X amount, I’m gonna go out and do that. You know, like how do you measure that as well? And how important is that when we’re talking about. I don’t want, say, life and death, but right now we don’t know. So it’s almost in that factor.
[25:24] Michael Bennett: I think that’s going to drive a big wedge. If people see that the government or companies are investing in ways to get sports up and going, and they’re not doing it to the same of the healthcare system, because there is this sense of capitalism, which people hate about America, is the capitalistic ideas that we are a part of our everyday lives. And we the people see that happening. And there’s a shortage in masks and healthcare essential workers. And then there’s an abundance of them for athletes, people are going to be upset. Because they’re going to say what is our value to society? Is it just bringing entertainment or is it bringing life? And I think that’s going to be a real big issue if those rules are broken. Those opportunities are given to the athletes and people who are making entertainment happen, and people who everyday front-line aren’t getting those things.
[26:19] Pele Bennett: OK, let’s backtrack. Isn’t that kind of happening right now? I’m like, that’s how it works already.
[26:26] Michael Bennett: No, I’m saying if that happens and — I don’t know how to work already because this is the first time we’ve had one of these things in our generation. Right now, when you see that everybody in the country is affected by something, and then we take our attention to something that doesn’t have any weight towards that thing changing, like football doesn’t change the Coronavirus. NBA doesn’t give healthcare workers more masks. Does it give people more opportunities for food who don’t have food?
[27:19] Pele Bennett: That’s what I’m saying. How important is sports in general? Fans want the entertainment of it, they want to see their favorite players out there. But also what you’re saying is like the give-back. I feel as we move forward, we still are trying to figure out, you know, everything. And so we’re going to start looking to things that benefit everyone. And not just one organization, one company. Just like, how can something make a better impact or benefit more than just that one entity? How can you get more out of this for the people?
[28:01] Michael Bennett: It comes back to — everybody’s gonna hate this — but it’s gonna come back to if people are going to want more of a socialist society. People are going to want to be included.
[28:12] Pele Bennett: What this also means is how do we start depending on ourselves as a country and that, you know, each state — like how do we lean on each other? I think that will be a reflection on how we can improve things closer to home.
[28:29] Michael Bennett: I think disaster always — look at pain or perseverance — always been one of those things that at the end there’s a sense of righteousness. I think people are going through this pain and all these different things, people are coming to a righteous moment where they will have to make a decision on being honest and being completely human and knowing that other people aren’t having the same opportunities as them, and understanding that the system needs to be changed, and everybody should have healthcare, proper food and an opportunity to have a better life. And I think we’re seeing all those things happen right now. Pele, do you think the players and owners are going to be on the same page? Or are they going to be in a disagreement about playing or not? Because we’re talking about all these scenarios, is their opportunity for them to meet in some type of type of agreement? Because I feel like a lot of people are going to feel like they’re going to be unsafe. The owners are going to want to do the capitalistic thing and continue to make money. Do you think the players are going to be on the same page?
[29:37] Pele Bennett: I think that’s what it is, it depends on what’s at stake. And I feel like we, as much as we want to say that we benefit people, but it’s kind of like we’re at survival mode. And so companies are in survival mode, our countries are in survival mode. And the NFL is, you know, a gigantic corporation. It’s like each owner is going to look at that as well. And as much as, you know, we want to put everyone together, I feel like they’re going to see what’s at stake for them. So they will decide their decisions on how they move forward and how they implement the players. And I mean, I think maybe the NFLPA needs to get in on this, and maybe this is how they fight back and maybe new contracts are brought up. But then, of course, that’s going to push it back even further. And then how much time do you have to wait?
[30:32] Michael Bennett: And I think this is the perfect moment for the players to really make their foundation and show that, as much as the league thinks that they’re the most important part, without the players, there is no NFL. Nobody’s buying jerseys that just say “NFL” on the back. They’re buying the Odell Beckhams. They’re buying Russell Wilsons. They’re buying the Tom Bradys. So this is a perfect opportunity if the NFL wants the players to participate in some type of league, this would be the perfect time for the players to be like, hey, look, we need this, we need that, we need that. So it is almost one of those things that the players should have waited to sign the player agreement. Everybody was in a rush there, but they didn’t know Covid-9 was going to hit. We had so much more leverage than we realize. And this is the moment where the kids that are coming up in the future, if you listen to this, you are everything. The league does not exist without you. And it is a privilege for them to have you, really, at the end a day, because if they don’t have the new talent, the league does not exist and doesn’t keep going. So I believe that there will be half of the players who are going to agree and want to go play, there’s going to be other half that’s going to recognize their value and be like, well, I don’t want to do it. Why do I need to do it? There’s going to be certain people who are not financially stable to go without playing for a whole season. I think that’s a lot of guys. I actually don’t know. I don’t think they would come to an agreement, actually.
[32:05] Pele Bennett: You’re saying that the players are going to want too much?
[32:11] Michael Bennett: I think the players are going to want more than what they have now to put themselves in harm’s way. They already put themselves to physical danger and mental danger.
[32:18] Pele Bennett: If you go back and play and knowing that you could possibly get the virus. How would you even wrap your head around putting yourself into harm’s way?
[32:30] Michael Bennett: And I think a lot of players are gonna be like, well, I already put myself in danger all the time. Why does it matter at this point? And I think that’s going to be the hardest thing, because there’s going to be a lot of players who are going to be like, yeah, I could do physical danger, but I can’t imagine having a disease that I could continue to spread to others. When you’re playing sports, like, you do it to yourself, you go out there, you break your leg. You deal with the pain, your family deals with the stuff after the pain. But if you have a disease and you bring home to your wife, your kids, your grandma, you just became a catalyst to something that could hurt your family.
[33:02] Pele Bennett: And that’s what’s more scary to me is, obviously, you know, we’re afraid of getting it. But really, it’s passing it. Because some people don’t have symptoms and some do. If you’re an athlete and you’re putting yourself in harm’s way doing this, but then you are coming home to your loved ones, your children, your parents, that’s at stake for them. The players’ perspective is like, what is it worth? I think that they should definitely, definitely take this time as players to really think of, you know, their own value. Really put themselves first. Because it’s money is there, but we’re now talking about this virus. Now you’re comparing life to money. Like this is a whole new conversation and situation. You know, like we’re always talking about, you know, oh, if you get hurt, if someone breaks a leg, if somebody, you know, like that’s devastating. But now we’re talking about actual death because we don’t know, don’t have a cure. I feel like that puts it on a whole new scale.
[34:07] Michael Bennett: OK, if they’re going to spend $400 million to get the sport going, I think it’s going to create some type of distortion among society, seeing that value that they’re putting it into sports. And as a player, like I would fear giving it to my wife, my kids and other people that are in my family and just people in my community. So I don’t think I would play, honestly, if you had to choose between having the disease and playing, I think a lot of guys are going to have to make a tough decision. And that tough decision is going to be something everybody’s got to deal with in the mirror as you self-reflect. But I know a lot of teams are going ahead as though they’re going to have the season, continuing with the draft, continuing with the commissioner said being normal. And I just think it’s gonna be hard to be normal in a society where things is abnormal. And the future of our society, the future of humanity is caught up in how much does each person value the next person and their society. I don’t know how important sports is to the value of our society. Even though it brings money, it does different things. I’m still questioning the value that it brings to everyday workers, everyday people who are on that frontline. Maybe it gives them the fantasy of seeing something outside of their reality and giving them something more.
[35:36] Pele Bennett: And now it’s not just one person thinking of this. We have met so many people over the years, you know, who go through something different, go through something tragic in their families that they have to make informed decisions. Now, everyone has to think about this. Everybody has to put this on the table, have this conversation. So I think it will be maybe almost enlightening to hear other people’s perspectives, athlete’s perspective, you know, and then because we have to put this measure of valuing our lives now. You know, it feels like this piece of human connection is coming back and it’s on everyone’s mind. And so now the conversation will, I think, will be started different and end different.
[36:45] Michael Bennett: Advice on how to survive this world without sports. I would say it’s time for everybody to go out and get a hobby. Learn another language, learn another skill, because you might have to live without sports this year. So you better get used to something. Pele’s over here learning Samoan. I’m about to pick up another language, learn another skill. You have to. I might even try to play the piano. I’m trying to make some beats and produce some stuff. You got to find another skill because as of now, sports may not happen. That’s my pro tip. Go find your ass a hobby and start being creative because that being lazy sitting on a couch and watching the games we used to do every Sunday? You might have to go and plant some stuff and learn how to garden, because that might not be happening.
[37:38] Pele Bennett: Yeah, I would say definitely find a hobby, Look at yourself. It’s like you put so much time into these other things. And maybe that’s not only sports, but use this time and dive into yourself, figure out your own skills, figure out what you’re good at. Like Michael said, find some hobbies and see. You might be a really amazing artist. You never knew that. Like, really dig into yourself and into your loved ones. And just rediscover things that you never knew were probably impossible.
[38:21] Michael Bennett: Thank you, guys. That’s a wrap on today.
[38:35] Michael Bennett: Please subscribe to us or like us on anything that you’re listening to. Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever you’re listening to get away from your family, whoever you don’t want to be around. And make sure you rate us or give us a comment. Even though we don’t give a fuck about your comments, give us a comment. Mouthpeace is a production of Lemonada Media, which you can find online on all social platforms @LemonadaMedia. You can follow me on social media, @MosesBread72. I love bread, and biblically, I always thought I was Moses.
[39:05] Pele Bennett: And you can follow me on Instagram at @pelepels. Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett is executive produced by us, the Bennetts. Our Lemonada Media executive producer is Eli Kramer, and our producer is Genevieve Garrity. Our assistant producer is Claire Jones and our audio is edited by Brian Castillo. Thank you to our ad sales and distribution partners at Westwood One, and to all of our sponsors for making this show possible.