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PLL pivots during pandemic, announces multi-week tournament to be televised on NBC

The Premier Lacrosse league will have a champion in 2020.

After announcing the league was postposing the start of its second season, co-founder Paul Rabil promised there would be some sort of season. Wednesday morning, that revised season began to take shape.

The news that an announcement was coming was first reported by Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette and was confirmed by the PLL in an announcement.

Rabil announced live on The Today Show that the league would forego its 2020 touring season, and instead host a 16 day, 20 game tournament to crown the league’s champion. The tournament is being called “The PLL Championship Series” The tournament will take place in a fully quarantined location that has yet to be announced, but the league is reportedly considering three locations at the moment in the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest.

“What we’ve put at the forefront is the health and safety of our players,’’ Rabil said in an interview with Variety. Rabil noted this plan was made in consultation with health experts.

The players will be tested three times for this tournament. Once before arrival, once upon arrival and yet again midway through the tournament. Should one player or member of “the bubble” test positive, the tournament will be postponed. No one will be allowed to leave the bubble once they enter.

The tournament will have no fans, but will be televised in its entirety across the family of NBC networks, including at least three games on the flagship NBC network, nine on NBCSN and eight on NBC Gold.

The tournament is currently scheduled to run from July 25th to August 9th. That window means the league will be filling the broadcasting window that NBC had previously set aside for the Tokyo Olympics which have been postponed until 2021.

The tournament will feature all seven teams playing four “group” games that will be randomly selected. Those group games will determine the seeding for the single-elimination tournament that will follow.

As for the athletes themselves, Bloomberg reports that they’ll be allowed to opt out if they don’t want to participate. The athletes that do decide to play will be paid a pro rated amount of their original 2020 salary, which depending on how many games they play, could be around 50% of the full season amount.

The PLL is the first league to announced their “bubble” scenario. Other leagues such as the NBA, MLB and NHL have considered continuing their seasons under a similar bubble scenario, but the logistics are far more challenging for the larger leagues. For the PLL, their bubble will include about 300 people between players, coaches and media production, according to Rabil.

If all goes according to plan, the league has taken a situation that could have been disastrous for a startup sports league, and turned it into an opportunity for the game to be broadcast in front of a national audience that is hungry for sports.

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[…] year. In fact, there really was no injury at all. But the effects on the player, the team and the PLL Championship Series were massive. From the instant Jules Heningburg got the news that he had an underlying condition, […]

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