This year’s National Sports Safety and Security Conference (NCS4) hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi, kicked off today with keynotes by Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer (MLS) and Thomas P. Bossert, Former U.S. Homeland Security Advisor.
Garber handled a Q&A session, in which he talked about the challenges, the planning, and the execution of Major League Soccer this year amid COVID-19. Garber talked about the League’s work with an array of experts, researchers, doctors, and more to implement processes and procedures to help games continue for 2020.
The MLS formed a bubble in Orlando before the NBA. More than 1,500 stayed in Orlando including support staff and players. During that time, the league has less than five positive cases of COVID-19, Garber says. He says that, critical to the organization’s return to play was strict adherence by staff, support and players protocols in place, which included social distancing, wearing of PPE, regular testing and washing hands.
“All of the logistics that went into this, including security, was an enormous amount of work to ensure we could do it in a way that was effective,” Garber says.
The future of professional sports, particularly as COVID-19 remains a threat, will rely on an organization’s ability to pivot and change course as needed, Garber says. In addition, he says, new technologies, processes and procedures will also be important for organizations to implement to help with adherence to protocols.
“We’ve got to have the ability to make decisions faster so we can operate more streamlined and effective way,” he says.
During his keynote, Bossert, talked about a collective, unified effort to move forward through this pandemic and allow for business continuity and continuity of organizations such as professionals sports and entertainment. He also discussed determining your motives to your decision making such as reopening and being able to answer the question of when you will shut down again or how you will pivot when circumstances change.