Expert Alert: Attempts to Revive Sports Leagues


Prof. Norm O’Reilly

The head of the UFC says his league is still planning to stage televised fights to empty arenas by month’s end. So will other professional sports try to follow their lead? The University of Guelph has an expert who can offer comment.

Prof. Norman O’Reilly is the director of International Institute for Sport Business and Leadership and a leading scholar in the business of sport and is available for interviews.

Before the UFC’s plans for a private “Fight Island” were cancelled last week, O’Reilly spoke to Global News about the optics of the plan.  He said he wasn’t sure whether the idea of holding such events in the middle of a global health crisis would turn off some fans and lead to a backlash.

“If something goes ethically over the line, it’s a risk to your brand,” he said. “But the UFC has lived on that edge. Maybe their brand could handle it better than other sports.”

O’Reilly added that sports leagues around the world have lost billions of dollars from postponements and cancellations, and many are eager to find ways to get their athletes playing again.

How viable are some of these proposed plans? And will the pandemic affect sports endorsements and contracts in the future? O’Reilly can offer comment.

O’Reilly is a professor in the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management in U of G’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, and studies marketing, sponsorship, sport finance, social marketing and tourism management.


Prof. Norm O’Reilly