Sports leagues across the world are still trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Some, like Germany’s Bundesliga and Korea’s KBO, have managed to return, while others are mapping out roads back, many of which involve playing games in empty stadiums for the foreseeable future. That’s particularly true in the United States, where professional sports continue to be on pause.
One sports league has decided that playing in front of fanless arenas is not a tenable path forward, and as such, it will not operate during 2020. The BIG3, Ice Cube’s halfcourt 3-on-3 basketball league composed of former NBA players, announced that it will not be able to take the floor this season, but thanks to its TV deal with CBS going through 2021, there will be a season next year.
“Ultimately, we need the fan experience and the games themselves to be great,” the league said in the release. “While other leagues have more immediate financial considerations, as a rising league, we need to put the fan experience above all and ensure each season is better than the one before. While we investigated many alternative scenarios, such as playing at a single location like a Los Angeles studio sound stage, the extension of the California stay at home order, California’s constant confusion and changing of the rules when combined with the multiple other issues listed above led to us to determining these scenarios were not feasible.”
“We tried everything in our power to give our fans a nice 2020 season but with a long list of obstacles, we decided to shift our focus to having a great 2021 season with our fans in the stands. Our goal from day one has always been to provide a remarkable experience full of top-level competition and entertainment,” Ice Cube said. “With the creation of BIG3: Not in My House and more time to prepare for the season, we will definitely come back with the fire.”
It’s surely a tough pill for the league to swallow, as it is still working to get off the ground in the U.S., but this is a sensible decision, especially because the league is confident this is just a one-year bump in the road. As Ice Cube mentioned, the league still plans on having some kind of activities this year via its Big Brother-style television show.