The Sunshine State has brought that ray of sporting hope during lockdown

As the American starts to ease, the lack of live sport continues to rankle the ordinary American. But, the help of one state throughout the pandemic has ensured that at least some sport has emanated through the nation. Step forward the Sunshine State of Florida.

Many sports fans have had to settle for other forms of entertainment during the pandemic with the online betting world taking precedence. As horse racing and WWE became the two main forms of live sport, sports betting took on a dimension previously unseen. And, with brick-and-mortar establishments taking a drop in revenue due to their closure, the online betting world still experienced a spike. With horse racing now fully back in the swing of things too, take advantage of generous offers from Paripop on Florida’s most prestigious racing course.

Throughout the pandemic, Governor Ron DeSantis has remained on a path of phased reopening, stating at the beginning of the lockdown that all professional sports leagues should continue, provided that the general public are not present. That all stemmed from DeSantis releasing a memo which outlined that professional sports and media production employees that have a national audience could report for work if the general public could not access it.

Why WWE has been at the forefront

For the chairman of the WWE, Vince McMahon, the news emanating out of DeSantis’ office could not have been more favourable. The money-spinning maverick had already outlined his desire to continue with live shows, ignoring advice to postpone or suspend Wrestlemania 36 and going ahead with the Money in the Bank event in early May. Those two events were hosted in Orlando, Florida as were the two after that, NXT Takeover: In Your House and WWE Backlash, the latter even being moved from its original showing in Kansas City.

With McMahon and his entourage effectively named as an “essential business” in Florida, the WWE boss took his show to the Sunshine State’s WWE Performance Center as punters turn to sites like to bet wild amounts of dollars.

How Florida is becoming the ‘saviour’ of sport

McMahon and WWE have adopted the Sunshine State as their new home, but they are not alone in doing so. Any professional sports organization can continue operating as they think appropriate and in conjunction with the players’ unions.

The NBA and its Board of Governors, for example, on June 4, approved a competitive format for the NBA to resume its season with 22 teams returning and a start date of July 30 and a Finals target of October 13. That plan was finalized by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association on June 26. But, included in that plan were strict health and safety protocols with a single-site campus at Walt Disney World in Florida. Again, Florida is leading from the front in its bid for live sporting hegemony.

Whilst such a move has hardly been controversial, the NFL, on the other hand, has been hit with a wave of criticism concerning their plans to maintain as normal a season as possible without earlier fixed plans and domestic travel to each corner of the States.

Major League Baseball (MLB) had entered into discussion about playing regular season games in Arizona. Florida, too, looks like a perfect destination for such activity, with its numerous Spring Training sites providing more than adequate facilities. Even the University of Florida spoke of its interest in hosting events involving professional sports teams looking for a way to play during the pandemic.

Florida leading the way

So, whilst most sports continue to toil with the idea of nationwide travel, the likes of the NBA and WWE have seemingly found a home in Florida, making it easier to regulate both the competition and its players. In turn, the Sunshine State appears destined to rejuvenate the American sporting calendar, and alongside this, giving punters the opportunity to watch and bet on live sports.