Baker Public Relations, a full-service communications agency headquartered in Albany, N.Y., with an office in Pittsburgh, Pa., hosted a Virtual Sports Roundtable on June 9, 2020, giving the floor to well-known Pittsburgh sports experts. Among the 12 panelists from professional, collegiate and youth sports were ESPN analyst and former Pittsburgh Steeler Merril Hoge, MLB Network analyst Sean Casey, University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director Heather Lyke, and Frank Velasquez of Allegheny Health Network Sports Performance. The roundtable was moderated by KDKA Radio Morning News host Larry Richert. The full list of panelists can be found here.
The expert panelists tackled topics that included how sports entities have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, how they can rebound, and the changes that likely lie ahead in the sports world. This came after the COVID-19 heath crisis suspended and majorly disrupted the sporting calendar for youth, collegiate and professional leagues and events.
When asked if he shares the NFL’s confidence that there will be football this year, Hoge said: “I do, especially for the preseason. The preseason is the easiest portion of the season to do it because, quite honestly, when you’re at training camp you’re quarantined anyway. You have the same routine and you don’t go anywhere. Now what would be unfortunate, if it ends up being like this, is that the fans can’t be a part of it—and obviously, the fans matter.”
Addressing how things are beginning to ramp up at Pitt, Lyke shared: “We brought our first group of staff back a week ago, and that’s primarily our executive staff and all of our head coaches and all of the football coaches, in order to prepare for our student-athletes to come back. We’ve created sort of a phased-in approach for our staff and student-athletes to return—hopefully safely and with all kinds of protocols in place.”
Discussing how the health crisis has affected his team, Pine-Richland High School Head Football Coach Eric Kasperowicz said: “We’re used to being together four or five days a week and two or three hours a day—building relationships, lifting weights and training, doing stuff in the classroom. That’s a lot of time lost. So, we’ve had to get creative over the past few months. You still want to give your team what they need to be successful.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to our daily lives — including how we participate in sports and consume sports,” said Megan Baker, president and CEO of Baker Public Relations. “The goal of this roundtable was to discuss how the sports world can rebound from the effects of the pandemic and what changes lie ahead as we emerge from the crisis. The panel of experts we assembled did a fantastic job, sharing information and shedding light on a very complex situation. We’re grateful to them for their time and contributions.”
Megan grew up in Butler, PA. She launched the Baker PR Pittsburgh office in the fall of 2019.
This virtual event was free and open to the public. A live feed of the event was also featured on Baker Public Relation’s Facebook page. A recording is posted to the Baker Public Relation’s Facebook page found here.