Before the SEC began its most unsafe season since World War II, Commissioner Greg Sanki set a clear goal. He wanted to crown the Atlanta Conference Champion on December 19th.
The league built its season around that goal and rethought its event on the 29-year-old neutral website.
“There was a lot of elimination in this reinvention,” Senkey said.
Lots of elimination. The peep rallies, fan challenges and pre-game celebrations that make the SEC Championship one of the sporting marquis events have almost been stolen. Home Depot’s backyard – 11 acres of green space in front of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium – was almost empty two and a half hours before the kick.
But Sanki fulfilled his purpose; He crowned the league champion (Alabama).
The World Series and the Grand Prix have eliminated a great deal, with priority given to the competition itself. The Premier League baseball league has defined its VIP parties and personal community service events. First-rate awards ceremonies – usually held on the field – were pushed to the MLB network at a later date.
The Grand Prix organizers decided they could not control anything that happened outside their gates in the city center, so they abandoned the 5K run, the party performance and the drivers.
“We really just cut it all out and really focused on the race event that Friday-Saturday-Sunday,” said Grand Prix co-owner Kevin Savory.
Even this looks different; About two-thirds of the carriers and food trucks around the 1.8-mile route were eliminated to prevent a crowd from gathering.
Like the Grand Prix, the college playoff title game retained enough key features to feel like a scaled-down version of his typical self.
“For us it was an immediate axis to re-imagine things and understand that large encounters on a personal scale no longer exist,” said Eric Poms, CEO of the Miami Host Committee in 2021.
The reimagining included the cancellation of a youth football clinic, but the addition of food drives and fundraising for golf.
A Central fan playoff could not function as it did before Tampa hosted the game four years ago, when thousands of visitors flocked to the convention center to kick field goals, grab dedications, buy merchandise and take selfies with the Chick Phil-A cow.
Miami saved parts of the event, setting up photo shoots like sand sculptures, giant playoff symbols and uniformed dolls in Lumos Park. It was easy to miss them in the stereotypical South Beach scene, but enough Buckeyes fans hung out the night before the game that a pair of OHIO calls broke out.
At least two parties still took place outside the hard rock stadium that led to the kick. Bee Gees songs broke out in one of the parking lots; Other face mask stations that were custom posted at the VIP event only.
Other elements have become completely virtual. You can throw football in pixels on a bus to raise money for teachers or test your football trivia online at a corporate sponsor. Live playoff playlist! A series of concerts has moved from a performance on the sand to a performance by Jason Drullo on Facebook, YouTube and the ESPN app. Within twenty minutes, the digital audience reached 1,500.
Hancock, the playoff director general, called it “emotionally difficult” to change events because they were some of the playoffs’ best connections to fans and the host community. But the decision was not difficult because the organizers believed there was no way to do them safely.
The art regulations and online elements were a “really good plan,” Hancock said.
“We look forward to returning to Program A.”