Sports Will Unite Us Again and We’ll Honor Heroes

April, 2020

The last time our country was under attack, sports was the catalyst to initiate our healing. Images of President Bush, standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium and Mike Piazza’s go-ahead two-run home run 10 days after 9/11 are indelible moments for sports fans, regardless of their geography and rooting interests. These defining moments represented the very best of sports, the role it plays in society, especially during difficult times when coming together is a remedy for so much.

9/11 launched two wars and the military careers of many servicemen/women motivated by this horrific attack. Unlike the Vietnam War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in our military veterans being revered at stadiums, arenas and ballparks around the country. No industry in the U.S. has done more to recognize the bravery of our military than NASCAR and the professional stick-and-ball leagues. Each event, year-round, when the lights go on, you can bank on a stoppage and a standing ovation by appreciative fans recognizing our brave military in attendance.

Another attack is upon us now, and this one is preventing communities from coming together. It has altered life as we know it, and this time our country’s crisis has shut down sports indefinitely. The ability to heal, come together and celebrate around a common interest has been taken from us. Sports is the common thread that gives us hope and a sense of forward progress and it has the power to rebuild the positive spirit of America.

9/11 turned ordinary citizens into extraordinary heroes. Men and women compelled to defend our country from attack voluntarily enlisted in our military to join the front lines and make a difference. Like 9/11, this attack will anoint a new set of heroes, those who are on the front lines working at hospitals, clinics and other triage centers. With the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus last week surpassing the number of lives lost on 9/11, our medical communities are acutely aware that they need to hold the line in this war.

Working in sports, our single greatest challenge is the absence of time. When can we roll up our sleeves again and get back to our offices? Our jobs are to create memories and unite fans, many who often disagree on politics, policy and who should be the Opening Day pitcher. After 9/11, we knew our time away from sports would be brief. We respected the need to shut our doors, close our gates and take a pause from the escape sports offer. As fans, we needed to grieve together, be respectful over lost life and when it felt right again, turn on the lights and crank up the music.

The one thing needed right now is community and in a time of social distancing, we’re in uncharted waters. The heart of sports, rendering all of the good that comes with a trip to a sports venue or watching it live from our homes has been paused. The resumption of sports can’t come fast enough. It is the emotional bridge to fans in ways traditional advertising can’t achieve. When we’re allowed to socially reacquaint ourselves with each other, there are two big moments to look forward to: The opening of our sports cathedrals and the national recognition of our medical communities at every sporting event — both locally and nationally. It is important for the commissioners of the NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, MLS and NASCAR’s leadership to hold a national moment of recognition on Day 1 and then each game the rest of the year to show our appreciation to today’s American heroes who have risked their lives and are on the front lines daily in the battle with COVID-19.

Opinion Piece By Michael Neuman | EVP, Managing Partner, Scout Sports and Entertainment

Michael Neuman has over 30 years of experience investing well over $1B in dynamic sponsorship and marketing partnerships. He founded Scout Sports and Entertainment, a division of Horizon Media, in 2010.  Neuman oversees all Sports, Experiential and Measurement Analytics services; unifying these disciplines under one entity to provide clients with strategic thought leadership and the most comprehensive suite of measurement and analytical tools in sports.  Michael is one of the industry’s most respected sponsorship marketers and Scout is an award-winning, nationally recognized agency representing over 30 corporate and property clients and managing close to 200 deals per year.

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