Proposed Rescheduling Of Dates To November Gives The Tournament Rare Competition For TV Viewers
The Masters has been the master of the April sports world ever since Bobby Jones invited the East Coast baseball writers to stop by Augusta on their way back from Spring Training in the 1930s.
With the smell of the azaleas, the shade of the giant magnolias and the pretty views of the pink dogwoods, it was tucked neatly into the sports calendar, like the Sunday pin placement on Golden Bell, the Par-3 12th hole. Early April was a fitting time to hold the Wimbledon of this sport. Or, as legendary LA Times sports columnist Jim Murray called it, “the Vatican of golf.”
And so, the Masters became an anticipated event for TV viewers in an otherwise down time in sports. It came on the heels of March Madness, nearly a month ahead of the Kentucky Derby and before any heated playoff matchups in the NBA and NHL.
But that all changed this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the sports world (and the entire world) into turmoil. The 2020 Masters will now likely be played in November, from Nov. 9-15.
And that will put it head-to-head against the NFL and college football.
Never before has the Masters had to face such stiff competition for TV viewers. Usually, its biggest obstacle is the wives and girlfriends trying to drag their significant others outside on a nice spring day. “It’s such a beautiful day,” they will say. “Let’s get out and do something.”
“But honey,” the males protest. “It’s the Masters!”
Fortunately, the Masters have wisely chosen its November dates, for on Nov. 14 is a rare off day in college football. It’s “breather weekend” when the powers catch their breath after some heavy-hitting games and before the big rivalry weekend.
For instance, Clemson hosts The Citadel and Alabama gets cupcake UT-Martin. Okay, LSU hosts South Carolina and the Gamecocks did upset Georgia on the road last year, but this is hardly a matchup to ruffle any feathers in Baton Rouge.
The lone big game is Tennessee at Georgia. But that will only be big if an SEC East crown is on the line at the time. Ohio State at Maryland might offer a slight chance at an upset – although the Buckeyes won 73-14 last year in Columbus – and Kansas State is likely to put another scare into Oklahoma in Norman before going down at the end.
Oregon plays Arizona State on Friday night, long after the last putt has fallen at Augusta for the day.
As of this writing, the NFL had yet to release its schedule. It may take the Masters into consideration and go light or then again, could go all-out cut-throat by scheduling something like the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers against the Tom Brady-less Patriots. In Foxboro.
Regardless of the NFL’s schedule, what will CBS Sports do about it’s schedule? It also holds the SEC rights to college football and has regular time slot of 3:30 ET. That’s Saturday’s “movement day” at the Masters.
Still, in the fall, people are not mentally into watching golf. They are used to football. Action. Hitting. The slow, methodical pace of golf may not fit their fall viewing desires.
But at least there will be a Masters. With the British Open having been canceled and the other majors also rescheduled the PGA Championship is now Aug. 6-9 and the U.S. Open has been rescheduled to Sept. 17-20), the Masters might not have the sports landscape all to itself this year but it’s still the Masters.