In April, "Sports Illustrated" published a piece titled, "Bursting the Bubble: Why Sports Aren't Coming Back Soon." Writer Stephanie Apstein surmised that there would be no basketball, no baseball, no football because positive COVID tests would shut everything down. It turns out that professional leagues have found a way to conduct their games, mostly without fans.

What was the impact on sports fans' collective psyche in a year when we thought there would be no live sports? We talk about the adjustments that were made, the value of letting fans back in (with limited capacity), and the future for minor league sports. Our guests:


The start date for some winter high school sports in New York state has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement on Tuesday from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association says that the start date for high-risk sports such as basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey and wrestling, will be moved to Jan. 4.

Fans in Kansas City booed when both football teams on the field linked arms in a show of unity. This happened not during the national anthem, but before the game -- it was intended as a show of strength. The vocal response of the limited crowd has convinced some observers that fans shouldn't be in stadiums at all this year. Sports Illustrated regional writer Pete Smith argues, "The biggest takeaway from the first game of the season between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans was the NFL shouldn't have fans in the stands. Not because of COVID-19, but evidently the country is so divided, so broken that even a modicum of respectful behavior is simply beyond our grasp."

Our guests debate the merits of putting fans in the seats during this pandemic season:

  • Pete Smith, editor of Sports Illustrated Browns Digest
  • Andre Hudson, local college professor and Bills fan
  • Evalyn Gleason, longtime Bills fan


LATHAM, N.Y. (AP)  The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday that football, volleyball and competitive cheer fall seasons will be postponed until March to address concerns associated with the novel coronavirus.

Sports Illustrated's Pete Smith is calling on prominent athletes - and their fans - to hold Barstool Sports and founder Dave Portnoy accountable for racist and misogynistic comments. Portnoy has a history of ugly statements, but argues that he's only trying to be funny. He blames critics for trying to "cancel" him.

Smith writes that this isn't about so-called "cancel culture;" instead, he says it's about drawing a line against racism and sexism at a time when social movements are showing progress. Our guests discuss it:

  • Pete Smith, editor of Sports Illustrated's Browns Digest
  • Chris Thompson, engineer, writer, comedian, and activist
  • Brittany Mollis, freelance writer and co-host of the all-female sports podcast "That's What B Said"


In what seemed inevitable, the Rochester Red Wings' 2020 season has been canceled. This comes as Major League Baseball informed Minor League Baseball that it won’t provide players for the 2020 season. 

24 years ago this summer, the Rochester Red Wings played their last regular season game at Silver Stadium. The ball park on Norton Street had been the Red Wings’ home for nearly 70 years. On Sunday – Father’s Day – WXXI-TV will re-air the broadcast of that last game. It's called "Last at Bat: A Silver Stadium Farewell."

This hour on Connections, our guests discuss the impact of Silver Stadium and the Wings, and how baseball has been affected by the pandemic. Our guests:

We continue our conversation about the future of youth sports in America. According to the Wall Street Journal, 20 to 40 percent of all youth sports programs could be lost due to insolvency caused by the pandemic. That could limit opportunities for young athletes with limited financial means who look to club and recreational leagues to play on teams. Meanwhile, experts in the youth sports movement say this moment of pause is an opportunity to reevaluate the youth sports model.

This hour, our guests explore the issues and discuss what an inclusive model would look like in all communities both during the pandemic and in the future. Our guests:

The Rochester Americans season is over. The American Hockey League has canceled the rest of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President and CEO David Andrews says “the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions.” Andrews went on to say, "The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.”

What should professional sports do during the pandemic? Major League Baseball is close to a plan that would include home games with minimal fans in attendance, and divisions based on geographic proximity. The season would start in July. Professional football has discussed a season in which the players stay in hotels and don't see anyone outside of league employees. Basketball stars like LeBron James are saying they think they can finish the current season, even without fans.

How much should we expect? What's reasonable? A somewhat serious, somewhat fun discussion that includes: