The world of sports is frozen in amber because of efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
That means no action on the field, from the NBA and major-league baseball to activities at the youth level. The possible cancellation of spring sports is a particular shame for high school seniors in both Kansas and Missouri.
One bit of sports news that flew under the radar — something completely understandable given the gravity of the pandemic — is a new collective bargaining agreement for the NFL.
The owners and players agreed to a 10-year deal that guarantees labor peace for a decade. Players gave the owners what they really wanted: an expanded playoff format and the addition of a 17th regular-season game. This regular-season expansion, the first since the 1978 season, means more enjoyment for fans and more money for owners.
For the players, it means more physical punishment. Did they get enough for this concession? It’s a fair question, one that’s partially answered with the 51.5% vote in favor of ratification, a fairly slim margin after the players’ own executive committee refused to endorse the deal.
For St. Joseph, the bigger question might be how this new labor contract affects training camp, which will be held at Missouri Western State University through 2022. The preseason eventually shrinks from four to three games under terms of this contract, with the fourth week becoming a bye prior to the start of the regular season.
One fewer preseason game is no big loss to anyone who’s ever watched starters play a couple of downs in a meaningless contest. However, it is worth watching to see whether a shorter preseason would mean a less time in camp in St. Joseph.
Right now, there’s no evidence that’s the case. The deal does include some smaller player-friendly concessions that would get noticed at training camp in St. Joseph or elsewhere, like limits on the length of padded and full-speed practices (no more than 2.5 hours) and a 16-day limit on the number of days in pads. Last year, the Chiefs scheduled 15 public practices during camp.
In the end, the deal benefits St. Joseph because it guarantees no labor-related work stoppage for the bulk of the Patrick Mahomes era in Kansas City. The 10-year labor contract is seven years longer than the three-year agreement reached earlier this year that keeps Chiefs camp at Missouri Western through 2022 at least.
As COVID-19 and its widespread impact shows, there’s no guarantees with anything. But for St. Joseph, football fans and anyone striving for a return to normalcy at some point, this contract perhaps provides a glimmer of hope for better days.