SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Finally, it's time for the return of big-time sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Today on ESPN from the Rock Hill, S.C., Sports & Event Center, the American Cornhole League Pro Invitational Qualifier. Those puffy, pellet-filled bags will soar toward the holes. Lights, camera, corn hole. Some other sports might be on the verge of returning, too, with new rules for social distancing and no on-sight spectators. No man knows cornhole like NPR's Tom Goldman. How are you, Tom?
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: (Laughter) I don't know after that.
GOLDMAN: I'm going to go out on a limb...
SIMON: I clearly literally have been holding a lot back these past few days.
GOLDMAN: I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're fired up about cornhole.
SIMON: Well, I - and who wouldn't be? They're playing tournaments this weekend. What do we need to know?
GOLDMAN: That cornhole is back to feed the great hunger in the land for live sports. As you mentioned, the South Carolina event will be altered a bit, the number of competitors reduced. Players will practice social distancing. They'll wear protective masks. And no fans in attendance. But, Scott, the game is the same in all its glory. Players tossing the small beanbags filled with what, Scott?
SIMON: Resin pellets, I believe. But traditionally, it was corn, right?
GOLDMAN: Outstanding. And I know you followed it.
SIMON: You and I have both looked that up very recently (laughter). You know, I watched some last night of the 2017 cornhole championships. Do you want to know my reaction?
GOLDMAN: Yeah, I do.
SIMON: I think they may not think that you and I are very exciting, either (laughter). Let's put it that way. Look. Some other sports are going to get a primetime platform to which they are not accustomed the next few weeks, aren't they?
GOLDMAN: There are other sports after that? Oh, my God. The Premier Lacrosse League says it's going to hold a fan-less tournament, instead of its 2020 season, from July 25 to August 9 broadcast on NBC, which would have been broadcasting the Olympics during that time. So we're going to get a lot of lacrosse instead of the games. Also Scott, NASCAR is back for a fan - limited fan-less run starting next weekend and some good, old-fashioned face bashing tonight with mixed martial arts. And, Scott, the UFC event will go on in Florida on pay-per-view despite one of the fighters on the card and two of his corner men testing positive for coronavirus.
SIMON: Oh, my God. God bless. Let me ask you about the NBA because Adam Silver had some remarks yesterday.
GOLDMAN: He did. It was a call with players, and the commissioner said that this - you know, a decision on this season doesn't have to be made before June. He also said if there is a return this season, it would likely be in just one or two sites. And there wouldn't be fans. And there might not be a full fan return even next season, he says.
SIMON: What about college football? It's important financially to a lot of programs and schools, and student athletes have limited careers.
GOLDMAN: Absolutely. You know, we actually got some information about this last night about college sports in general, not just football. NCAA President Mark Emmert and a top NCAA medical official took part in a video Twitter chat. Among the things they said, if a school doesn't reopen, as in students back on campus, that's - they're not going to be playing sports. That's apparently the consensus among college presidents. And as far as what happens with football, which can be such a huge revenue generator for some schools, Emmert and the medical officials say universities will need to make a decision by the end of June - maybe the very first part of July but not later than that.
SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. I know we'll both be watching cornhole later - cornhole and popcorn with our families. Take care.
GOLDMAN: You got it.
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