Prof. Norm O’Reilly

With several professional sports leagues making the first moves to re-start practices and find ways forward during the pandemic, 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 at U of G and a leading scholar in the business of sport.

O’Reilly spoke to CTV News Channel and said he thought this past weekend’s virtual NFL draft was “a huge success” even without the excitement of the usual in-person draft.

O’Reilly also spoke about the decision by several NBA teams to open practice facilities in cities where stay-at-home orders have been eased, noting that contract obligations may have played a part in those decisions.

He explained that players’ unions’ collective bargaining agreements often include stipulations that players are entitled to certain kinds of support in their training but they also likely had to consider issues of player safety, to avoid any legal complications.

“So it was a big step to get the players to agree to whatever the process may be,” he said.

O’Reilly also spoke to BNN Bloomberg about how professional sports leagues will fare once the pandemic fades. He said he thought if there is a shift to smaller venues, attendance might shrink but that fans are eager for a return t play.

He noted leagues are considering many options to get players playing again and keep fans interested. That could mean, for example, that future hockey games or concerts might be viewed at home while wearing a virtual reality headset, complete with new camera angles and immersive experiences.

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. He is available for interviews.


Prof. Norm O’Reilly