Breaking the Rules: Sports in the Bubble
- Dec 2, 2020
Reinventing Business, Reflecting Change, Revealing the New Direction
In this uncertain climate, sports has been one of the industries that has excelled, changing the playbook on operations both for their business as well as for the fans. Leagues such as the NHL, NBA and MLS paved the way for other leagues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, creating bubbles for their teams to continue doing what they know and love in a safe space. Join Michael Breit, Partner-In-Charge of the firm’s Sports & Entertainment practice, as he chats with Oris Stuart, EVP, Chief People & Inclusion Officer at the NBA, Sean Prendergast, CFO of Major League Soccer, and Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, about their journey over the past six months and the forecast for sports as we move into the new year.
Michael Breit: Hi, I'm Michael Breit, vice chair and leader of the Sports and Entertainment practice at EisnerAmper. I'm pleased to present our session today, entitled Sports in the Bubble: Reinventing Business, Reflecting Change, Revealing the New Direction. We have three terrific panelists, all very involved in the sports world and all from different angles. One a CEO, a CFO and a CPO. Today we have Tim Leiweke, the CEO of Oak View Group, one of the leading development and advisory firms with the sports and live entertainment industry. Tim previously was at Anschutz Entertainment Group, one of the pioneers and founders of Major League Soccer. And then at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, running the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and the Toronto Football Club.
We have Oris Stuart, executive VP, and chief people and inclusion officer at the NBA. And he's going to talk to us about playing in a bubble. And then how does the NBA go into their next season which starts just in a month? And then finally we have chief financial officer, Sean Prendergast, of Major League Soccer. And Sean will lighten us with a discussion of player safety, security, and what was it like for MLS to complete their season. We look forward to this session and let's get started. The first question we'll go to Tim. Tim, you've been involved in multiple sports and seen so many different things. And as we see that sports has proven itself during this time, I mean, sports has been incredibly resilient. We had a World Series, an NBA finals, a Stanley Cup. Did you ever think we would get through this?
Tim Leiweke: I did, Michael. I've always enjoyed telling people that the single greatest disease and infection and most contagious is optimism. And so we always knew this was going to be a period of time that would come and that it would go. And as we're still in the middle of this, I think we have to have some optimism that we have some of the smartest people in the world that are thinking this through. Whether it be the scientists, the doctors, the hospitals, or people like Bill Gates. When you see people like that, that rally around this particular cause and this moment, you have great faith that they will figure this out, and we will have normalcy again sometime next year.
But if you look at music, then you look at sports and as an industry, the teams and the facilities, this is a trillion dollar industry that has been sidelined and has been unable to activate with its fan base. And let's always remember that at the heart and soul of every community, are sports teams and musicians. And so not having that moment of passion, not having that moment of the live experience, this is a tough time for everyone to get through. But it will pass, optimism will reign, and we will land on our feet. We will come out of this and we will be, I think, very similar to what we saw with the Spanish flu. We will enjoy the roaring twenties again and have one of the great renaissances of sports, music and the live business come '21 and '22.
MB: Thank you, Tim. Let's go to Oris because we've seen the NBA complete season in a bubble in Orlando and they succeeded tremendously. Oris, can you describe what the NBA had to go through in getting this accomplished, and some of the feedback that you received about playing in the bubble?
Oris Stuart: Michael, let me start by saying, I am incredibly proud of what we were able to accomplish during our season restart in Orlando. And whatever success that we had, is truly the result of incredible planning, incredible execution and true sacrifice and commitment from a host of people including our players, our team staff, our league staff, and of course the staff there on campus at Disney Wide World Sports. When I think about the effort and what we were able to accomplish, there really are at least five different work streams that come to mind. And the first and primary focus and the primary efforts were around safety. Player safety, staff safety, safety of everyone associated with the experience and the restart. The safety protocols affected every aspect of life there in the bubble from pre-arrival, to arrival, to daily activities, to even exit. And so that was an essential part of the process.
Another work stream was the game itself. I mean, we didn't have to create a new game, but we had to make sure that the game we're all familiar with worked in the context of that environment and that situation, and there were tweaks we had to make to how the game would be played and how it would ultimately happen in that unique space. There's the focus on the broadcast itself. We're obviously playing in a central place, in an arena where there aren't fans. And so that led to thinking and alternately action around what the game would look like to our fans who are viewing it around the world. And of course that led to the virtual fan experience and so on.
And then there's life in the bubble. We'll talk a little bit about the safety aspect, but there's broader experiences that we had to be mindful of. We're asking our players and staff to live in a bubble for many of them weeks and many of them months. Months at a time. And so we had to go beyond safety to make sure that the experience itself was fulfilling and meaningful and sustainable. And then finally, we, of course, and last certainly not least here, we had to think about and plan for and focus on the issues of social justice. The issues that are so important to our players, important to our teams, our league, our employees, and of course, to our fans.
And so there was a huge effort to make sure that those combined group took advantage of this unique platform that was bare for us to speak to this global movement or social justice change. So you put all that together and a lot of efforts. And we had what I think is a truly remarkable outcome and a unique experience. I think all sports, as I said, early I'm truly proud of what we have to accomplish and the feedback from our fans, from the team, from our players and from everyone associated with, it was very appreciative and very supportive. And I think the outcomes speaks for itself.
MB:Oris, I couldn't agree more. What a remarkable outcome and remarkable experience and kudos to you and all the NBA executives, teams of players, front office, back office for pulling that off. Sean, MLS has experienced tremendous growth and expansion over the last few years. And now is heading into a 16 team playoff run. How has the pandemic affected the league teams, its players and fans?
Sean Prendergast: Thanks, Michael. We came into the year we were incredibly excited. This year it was our 25th anniversary. We had added Nashville and Miami. Nashville at its inaugural game, had 60,000 fans at it. We had been trying to consummate a deal in Miami for some time with David Beckham. They put together a great ownership group down there. We had added Charlotte and Saint Louis and other teams coming in. Austin was going to start soon thereafter this year. So we had a lot of momentum coming into the year and then March 13th, it's essentially, everything changed for the league at that point. Obviously, it put the league just like all sports had put us under incredible economic pressure. And particularly for us so much of our economics are driven by fans that we felt the pain pretty early and pretty quickly, but it was clear to us that we needed to get back out and engage our fans, whether or not that was in stadiums or not.
And so it became clear to us early on that we also wanted to do a bubble much like the NBA did in Disney. And so that effort again, similar to what the NBA went through. It was just an incredible effort by everybody here at the league office, our players, our teams - it takes a lot to bring that together, and it allowed us to retain some of our media and sponsorship. But again the challenge is really not having the attendance and fans. And so we wanted to keep the momentum and make sure that we were in front of our fans, even if it meant more of a media play. And then as we were doing the bubble, we were planning the next stage, which was to go into market.
So while the NBA did a bubble, the NHL did a bubble. Baseball did home markets. We've done both. And so there was an incredible amount of planning. We learned a lot from the bubble and that helped us transition to our home markets and now the playoffs. So it's been an incredible challenge, but it's really showing the resilience of this sport and of this league and of the owners and of the staff and of the players. It's just been an amazing effort do what we've done thus far under the pressures that we face. So we're excited to continue.
MB:Thank you, Sean. Again, just another incredible example of the resilience of sports. Let's now move on to a discussion of arenas. Tim, we are now involved, or you are now involved, I should say, in the development and the construction of the new home of the New York Islanders, the UBS Arena in Belmont Park. What safety and health measures have you thought about when constructing the new arena during this COVID crisis?
TL: Well, Michael, actually, you guys are involved in this arena and so is everybody in Long Island. I always like to say that, if you're an Islanders fan, this has been 30 years of a journey through the desert, trying to find a home. If you look at professional sports today, there's very few teams that don't have a permanent facility that they own and operate. The Islanders one or one of them. If you look at the Clippers in the National Basketball Association and not having a true home. So this is a moment that many Islander fans have been looking forward to for over 30 years. At the same time we sit here and we're right in the middle of the greatest health challenge of our lifetimes and clearly of the last 100 years. And that has acted not only as a deterrent onsite during construction, but we now must pay attention to the health and the wellness of our facilities for our fans, our employees, and our players, once we do open.
So first onsite, we're a part of a community in New York that was unusually hard hit in the very beginning of this pandemic. And we had to deal with terrible death issues. We had to deal with the pandemic breaking out in all parts of not just the state, but the city in particular. So we like other businesses, were shut down for a two month period of time. When we finally received permission from Governor Cuomo to reopen, we had a sanitization program on location that was similar to what we did in Seattle, where we had a two-month head start. So our ability to bring the players, pardon me, the construction workers in and make sure that the trailers, the offices, the site, everything was sanitized. We had social distancing, we had masks, we had face guards, we wiped down railings, we wiped down steel, we wiped down offices.
We were extremely conscientious. And to date, we have had not one COVID illness on site since we reopened the construction site, but we are going to be a little delayed. We hope we have the building, the UBS Arena, open by the end of November of next year. That then puts us in a position where we now have to think through the customer experience. So we've always believed that social distancing in a percentage of fans would be a temporary measure, that would be gone by the time we open our arena. And that looks indeed like the most likely outcome of what we're looking at for next season.
So in November, December, when UBS Arena opens, we have all kinds of new health and wellness technology, operational procedures, and thinking that we've installed into this building. And far easier to do it when it's a brand new building, but for example, our airflow will be 80% better than what people experienced at the old Nassau Coliseum, our filterization system, and our ability to trap the bad elements of what's in the air, including a pandemic bug is so sophisticated and our ability to take that fresh air, put it through the filter system and turn the air into a proactive ability to take out anything negative; like the virus that may be floating in the air. Really remarkable what we're able to do with our engineering folks, with our construction folks at hunt and with our project management team.
In addition to that, you'll see far more grab and go. So the Amazon Go technology will be on display in our building. We're partners with Amazon because of our climate pledge arena in Seattle. So we've had the great opportunity to learn from them about a countless point of purchase human lists transaction, where you grab what you want. Technology knows you're in that store. It knows your shopping. It knows what you've taken, and you walk right out. You've never had to go out to a countertop. You never had to have a person to person experience. So we're thinking through air filterization, we're thinking through clean air, we're thinking through our clubs and our suites that will have additional filterization machines and components within each one of them. We're thinking about how we ultimately have grab and go. We're thinking about testing all over our employees on a nightly basis. We're thinking about how we sanitize the building after each and every event. And we're thinking about even additional wellness, health, and safety factors in our locker rooms for both of the teams, for the players, for the referees and everyone that's participating in the event.
So it's changed the way we go about operating these buildings, but it won't change what we believe will be the true experience because as I mentioned earlier, there will be such a pent up demand from everyone to go out and celebrate as a community, to be a part of a sports team, to be able to go back and enjoy that live experience. And we are determined to make sure that we've taken the proper steps so that everyone can have confidence returning to the UBS Arena and all of our arenas and our arena alliance, that we are safe. We have taken extra measures for their health and their wellness and that the players and our employees in particular, will have new stringent measures in place to protect them as well.
MB:Tim, thank you. What a remarkable accomplishment. And we certainly can't wait to go to the UBS Arena. It's right in my backyard. Let's now go to a discussion of diversity. Oris, our theme here today is about innovation and how it helps drive success. Diversity of people, means diversity of thought, new ideas, creative solutions, and fresh perspectives, all of which contributes to innovation. How do you challenge your organization to think differently and bring in new voices?
OS:Well, Michael, you are absolutely right. Diversity and inclusion are deeply connected to innovation and innovation is essential to the success of an organization like ours. How do we make it relevant and how do we keep our focus on innovation? Well, first of all, it helps that innovation is actually a core value for the NBA. It's one of what we call the four corners of our core. And so it's considered an essential construct to how we think about our business, how we make decisions and how we run our business. And so that helps for it to be central to our values.
Number two, it quite frankly helps that some of the challenges that we're facing require innovation require us to think differently about our business, to think differently about our processes, not only to think differently, but to act differently. It requires us to develop solutions and responses to intractable challenges that requires to do something that's never been done before. And that's the perfect recipe for innovation. I think the fact that it's a core value, the fact that our commissioner challenges us regularly to think differently and to act differently. The fact that some of the challenges we face, like those challenges of the pandemic and the global movement for social justice cause us to innovate and create our response in Orlando. I think it's that combination. It keeps us very focused on it.
And then the other thing is, because it's of value because our commissioner drives us to think differently because our challenges are significant and not only the challenges I spoke of, but just even looking longer term at the changes in fan expectations, the changes in and viewing habits of sporting events and other kinds of broadcast events, we all have that requires us to take a fresh look at who we are and how we do what we do. But the other thing we do is we spend time talking about not only the power of innovation, the importance of innovation, but also reflecting on the challenges of innovation. One of the reasons that innovation is so important and creates the kind of change it does and kind of opportunities it does is because it's difficult, because it requires the inputs of disparate ideas and different people with different experiences and different backgrounds. And that takes energy to tap into those differences.
So we talk about and prepare our leaders in our organization to lean into those differences, to find ways to harness those differences, to quite frankly build an instinct for innovation, which also requires an instinct for inclusion, requires us to look past the challenge of working with someone different. That's going to come in and introduce an idea or challenge an idea I have, to be able to work through that discomfort and through that challenge to get the breakthrough. So it's really central to who we are, and it is something that we talk a lot about. It's something we actually are training on in terms of how to be purposeful in assembling teams of people to make decisions on challenging problems to focus on diversity and assembling those teams. And not only the primary dimensions of diversity, which we often focus on, but as you said, diversity of thought, diversity of experience, cognitive diversity, if you will. So it is something that will be essential to our future given the ambitions we have to continue to grow the game. And I think the evidence of that focus really showed up in Orlando.
MB: Thank you Oris. Certainly, the NBA has been a leader in innovation on the digital, social and mobile side. Next, let's now move to a discussion of player, safety and security. Sean, if you could give us a view of how COVID-19 changed the way Major League Soccer handled players' safety and security.
SP: Thanks, Michael. Obviously safety and security has been a main focus since this all started and we really have two tenets that we've been focused on since the beginning. One is testing. And the idea behind testing is really test, test and more tests. So first what you're trying to do is identify the positive as quickly as possible. And at that point, you want to treat the player immediately and you want to isolate the player. And so that's been a key tenet, whether it's in the bubble or as we've been traveling to market. So we test immediately in a cadence that allows us to get results immediately before boarding a plane. We ensure everybody's negative as you get on the plane. We're flying in spending a little bit of time in a hotel, but same day playing our game and then flying back. And it just minimizes the risk when you have all negative tests and coming in and out that same day.
And in addition, with those frequent tests, you are getting your negatives back as well. So it gives you more confidence, even with a positive, depending on the circumstances. Obviously everybody's a little bit different on this, but even with a positive, once you do your contact tracing, you can continue to play games even with the positive. You don't have to shut down the whole thing. And that's been a key and it's been the only way for this to frankly to work. And as leagues, we've come together to compare notes on this. And since we're all dealing with the same issues, it's been helpful in allowing all of us to get back and do what we need to do.
In addition, it's conduct. The stress on conduct is no different than what Dr. Fauci says all the time, masks in facilities, masks everywhere except for when you're eating. So it's a key in and on the field. So it's a key our coaches wear masks, all those sorts of things. Social distancing and gatherings. I think that's the key one for us is that we've really stressed, no bars, no restaurants, no indoor gatherings, no outdoor gatherings. So it's been really a stress that if we cannot adhere to these rules, we're not going to get the season in. And our players have really taken it to heart. And it's allowed us to make it through what we've did. We've had a couple of suspensions, which we totally expected.
Going into the bubble, we had two teams come test negative before getting on the plane and were positive when they got to Disney. And we had to deal with isolating those players, but our protocols were in place. To handle just that way. Players were isolated for the first two days. There were positive tests. The entire team was isolated at that point and we're able to remove those teams from the tournament and everybody else. We had about 30,000 tests and I think we had two positives after dealing with the two teams when they first came in and we were able to treat those players. We had medical folks on staff. We had our events group that was providing support for the players. We had one player that was isolated that wanted to spend a couple of extra days because of all the goodies that were being sent up to the room for our players. So for us it was incredibly key. The players are what makes the league go. And so to ensure their safety and security has been key.
In terms of going back into stadiums, we are doing the things that you would expect. There's kill seats so that we're not having our fans, where we can play with fans depending on local rules, near players, using separate entrances, no contact, those sorts of things as you'd expect. So we look forward to getting back to some normalcy in 2021 as Tim says, but right now that's been our focus, is to ensure that our players are safe and we can get in our games.
MB: Thank you, Sean. Just incredible resiliency on behalf of the players and what all of you folks at Major League Soccer are doing. Let's turn to a discussion of fan engagement. And Tim, you mentioned about the pent up demand for the fans, because for at least a period of time, we've lost that in house experience. So what new initiatives have you rolled out or are you rolling out to continue to engage the fan?
TL:It's a good question, Michael. So one really encouraging moment that we're now seeing is if you look at the music business and live nation, 85% of the people that bought a ticket for a tour that was either temporarily delayed or had to move to a date to be determined, they've kept their tickets. They didn't cash them in. They want to go see that show. If you look at the last few weeks, there are festivals that just want back on sale and sold out within less than a day. So there's zero question in my mind that people will get comfortable coming back into the arenas, the stadiums, the festival sites and the theaters, because they have confidence that the sports industry, the music industry and the facility industry has been very aggressive at not taking this lightly, dealing with all of the issues we had to deal with, in order to make sure that we do protect their health and wellness.
But I also think that is the human spirit. We need to come together. We need to celebrate, we need to sing. We need to be a part of the team. We want to see that team with its name on its jersey that represents our community. And so the passion we have for our teams, the passion we have for the live experience and the passion we have for music, I think is a pent up demand, that will be overwhelming. I think we're going to see the best touring year in the history of the music business in 2022. I think we're going to see one of the better years in the history of sports, because it's going to be an emotional return when the fans get a chance to come back into the stadiums and to come back into the arenas. Imagine the Los Angeles Lakers and the fact, they didn't have a chance to celebrate that championship with their fans.
Imagine the Los Angeles Dodgers and the fact they didn't have a chance to even throw a parade for their fans. This is a pent-up demand that people are looking forward to, they're going to be anxious about. And as we're seeing, they trust that the leagues, the teams, the facilities, the promoters, all of us in this live industry are being very diligent about what we have to do to earn their trust when they come back into that experience. But we will not take them for granted. We will be extremely focused on understanding that when everybody does return this, thing's not going away, the pandemic will become an epidemic. And like the flu, we're going to need annual shots. We're still going to have some people that ultimately don't get the vaccine, do attend the events and maybe ultimately do catch the disease. We're going to have to treat those people and be aware that there's still going to be a chance, even though it's a very small chance that we are dealing with that bug and the bug may still be in the air.
So we cannot take anything for granted. We cannot ultimately let our guard down. And I think if our industry maintains that attitude and we communicate that back to the consumer, the consumer is going to come rushing back. Because again, as we experienced in the 1920s, they need to go out and celebrate socially. They need to go out and be part of something that's unique and only that live experience and sports than in music, only that experience ultimately allows us to come together and celebrate and be able to have the emotion and the passion that we have with sports and music. I always like to tell everyone, we're born with music and we die with music and we celebrate or mourn everything in between with music. Sports is about coming together. And it's the one thing we probably all agree on in our communities. And Lord knows now more than ever, we need to come together and celebrate our sports teams in our communities.
So this is a platform and this is an industry that will come roaring back, but we will not take the health and the wellness and the wellness of our employees and the wellness of our fans without huge steps to make sure that we're continuing to deal with, even that small chance people may be infected.
MB:Thank you, Tim. And I can tell by your enthusiasm that sports will be back and really humming in 2021, '22. So now we have the NBA beginning to play their next season. It was just announced December 22nd. So Oris, I'm curious, what was the players and crews mood like in the bubble immediately post bubble, but now what kind of feedback are you seeing from the players as we plan the upcoming NBA season?
OS: Michael, let me first reflect on what our players and our staff experienced in the bubble. They were asked to live and work under those circumstances without access to family or friends, to live under very strict rules of engagement and protocols for what for many of them was weeks or months, or in some cases, many months. And so in terms of their mood, I would have to say it was incredibly positive given the circumstances, given the stress of that environment. And I would associate that positive mood and feeling with number one, the commitment to the game, the commitment to bringing the game to life for our fans, a commitment to finishing what we started in terms of the season that was put on pause back in March. I think there was a sense that our players were part of, and the staff of course, part of something really special that they were making history.
There was a purpose here that went beyond the game and that really hearkens to the focus on social justice. There's a recognition that all eyes would be on the bubble and that these things are so important to our players, to our employees, to our league, to our teams, to our fans, that this was a moment to stand up and express our support for these issues. And so it was such a meaningful moment. And I think that led to an appreciation for the opportunity and again, under the circumstances, pretty positive sense of things. Now that said, as we got into the experience of life in a bubble, we had to address some concerns that were raised about food choices, about extracurricular choices. I mean, all things that I think we did our best to respond to.
And so the feedback all in all was pretty supportive and very positive. And quite frankly, there was a recognition at a certain the point that in fact, this was ironically one of the safest places on earth, given the environment that was created for our players and staff. I mean, it was a challenge to exist and live in this environment, but it was also incredibly safe. And so some of the feedback that I certainly have heard from players and staff who left the bubble was how much they didn't appreciate before, and then came to appreciate the safety that they had, the ability to live almost a normal life under the circumstances. And the ability to play the game and to compete without the fears that all of us who are living in the current world were facing. They had the privilege of living a very different kind of existence for that period of time.
And so, as we plan for the next season, our players are an essential part of thinking about what does that experience going to be like, and how do we ensure their safety, the safety of everyone associated with the game. Of course, in those occasions, when fans do show up in the arena their safety as well. And so it was an incredibly important learning experience. I think some incredible relationships were built within the player community, within the employee community. And I think an appreciation that we can, by being innovative, by focusing on the things that matter, we can come together and create a situation. Even if it's not like a bubble, we can create a situation where we can bring the game to life. We can have success in the course of an entire season. And where we can meet the needs of our business, the needs of our players and the needs of our fans. And so I'm incredibly optimistic about what's ahead of us. I appreciate Tim's optimism as you just heard about what's ahead of us. And I share that optimism. And I think what we learned is going to create a real path force in the coming months.
MB:And thank you Oris. I've heard a lot of optimism from the three of you, and now our session is almost running out of time. I know we could talk for a while longer, but Sean, I will leave you with this last question, then after that, I'd like all of the panelists to have closing takeaways – where do we go from here? Sean, the last question for you is this, do you believe the pandemic will lead to a contraction of new arenas and stadiums, and will teams decide to travel less as a result of the pandemic?
SP:Thanks, Michael. This'll be a quick answer for me. I think the answer's no. I share Tim's optimism as well. I think there is an enormous short-term impact that was created as a result of this pandemic, but I think in the long-term, we feel good about the outcome and stadiums may look a little bit different, but it'll be technological advances that will be key there. So, whether it be ticketless systems or grab and go as Tim was discussing in his question. But at the end of the day, we don't think there's going to be a contraction and we feel very optimistic about the league and sports in general. In terms of travel, it's an interesting question. For us this year, we stayed a little bit more regional once we left the bubble, but we also had a shortened season. So, we haven't made that decision for next year. It's possible, but we're going to evaluate that, but I think in the long-term we don't see that as to be the outcome.
MB: Thank you, Sean. And as we close, let's go to closing takeaways from our three panelists. I think our audience would like to hear, where do we go from here? What does the future hold? So I'll go to Tim, to Oris, to Sean. Tim, why don't you get us started.
TL: Thank you. And it's been a real treat, being a part of this and my hats off to both the NBA and Major League Soccer for the job they've done on keeping people safe and orchestrating and putting games back on because we needed those. Look, I think Gary Bettman and what he did with the NHL, Adam in the NBA, think about this. They had bubbles where they had zero cases, zero. That's hard to do. When you think about MLS, not just what they were doing down in Orlando, but what Don and his group had been able to do and opening games back up, same with Roger Goodell and what the NFL has done. Same with major league baseball.
It gives me great hope that sports is not just going to be on the cutting edge when it comes to technology, science and medicine on how we get through this. But we've been here for everyone during a time when everyone could use that moment and that emotional release and that passion. Sports has always been a very important part of who we are as communities, as individuals, as families. And I really relish the moment that I get to come back in with my family and my grandsons, and go to UBS Arena for the Islanders, or go to the Climate Pledge Arena for the Kraken and be a part of a sporting event again, because I miss the people. I miss the energy, I miss the excitement and I miss the enthusiasm. And my advice to everyone out there is we will be back and it will be better than ever.
OS: I love what I heard, Tim, about we'll be back and it will be better than ever. I firmly believe that. And just staying with this focus on innovation, I would just say we were all forced to innovate. We were forced to innovate by the challenges that were presented to us and the importance of us working through those challenges. And as a result we are going to be able to create new experiences and new approaches to the fan experience, the new approaches to presenting our games and our sports to our fans everywhere in the world. We have lost our limits, in many respects. We will find that the innovation is going to persist and expand beyond just the game presentation and the game experience to how we build relationships with our fans and how we access our fans and build even more intimacy with our fans.
I mean, this is really a reflection of what's possible. And so there's no turning back. And so I think we're talking about the ability to expand our thinking, and in turn grow our games, grow our leagues and touch even more people through sports. And so I'm excited, as I said, optimistic and thrilled about what's ahead of us in spite of the challenges. We're going to learn from it, we're going to grow from it, and we're going to be, I think even better.
SP: Going through something like this, where literally on a daily basis, you were dealing with the crisis and consistent change, and the loss of the ability to know what was coming and predict. It causes an organization to become much more nimble, much more flexible. You need to make decisions and make decisions very decisively, but being able to revisit those decisions and even with a lot of energy put into a decision, know at some point that you may have to pull back as a result of changes in the circumstances. As a result of what we had to face, there's nothing that's been like this for anybody. And I think that loss of control has forced people to become better at their jobs. And I think all of us in sports whether it's our organization or the NBA, or the NFL, MLB, NHL, NWSL, WNBA, everybody was forced to adjust in ways that nobody could envision a year ago. And so I think it'll make us all stronger organizations in the long run. And I think we've seen that this year.
MB:Thank you to all of our panelists today for your time and your incredible insights in the sports industry. Wishing you the very best for you and your family for happy and healthy holiday season, stay well and stay healthy. And now let's go to Diane Wasser.
If you have any questions, we'd like to hear from you.
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