Judiciously, but surely, with ample caution, New York edges closer toward re-opening.
Too slow for some, certainly, the fact that the vast majority of businesses were compelled to close in March, so that the spread of coronavirus might be curtailed means that incomes for many folks have come to a grinding halt. State and Federal aid has bridged the gap and given lifeline support, but that can't and won't last much longer.
So the May 24 announcement from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo that pro sports teams will be able to bring athletes together, for training camps, drew cheers from frustrated sports fans.
People are craving seeing their favorites on the diamond signal the start of summer, so the Governor's decision made many smile. The players themselves, they've chomped at the bit to get back to a routine that resembles normalcy. And not to mention, the business owners who have invested so heavily into the teams, and the myriad shop owners and suppliers and the like who rely on the big business that is the professional sporting sphere to spur sales—a comeback for sports leagues lifts the spirits of people rooting for and affiliated with the Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, the Knicks and the Nets.
Gleason's Gym owner Bruce Silverglade was pleased to hear this forward movement, but his happiness was diminished when he noted to himself that the Governor mentioned ‘professional sports leagues.' But what about boxing? What about the sweet science? What are we, chopped liver in the managers' special bin? That's a rhetorical question, and not one that Silverglade, who runs the most famous boxing gym on the planet, would phrase in that manner.
Bruce touched base with NYFights after hearing Gov. Cuomo during a press conference at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh that on Sunday, professional sports leagues can get back to a version of business.
“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” Cuomo said then. “I believe sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena, do it! Do it! Work out the economics if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports to the extent people are still staying home. It gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible, and we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”
Note the word choice….”All sports teams.” That leaves out boxing, and sure, you can point out that the fight game ain't what it used to be, but when the Garden is hosting a sold out prize fight, the brand of electricity pulsing in the arena reminds you that boxing can still summon thrills and chills of the Joe Louis-Muhammad Ali-Mike Tyson eras.
It strikes me that there's no reason that immediately comes to my mind why Silverglade can't open up his gym Sunday, and allow the professionals that make the DUMBO institution their fistic home base to start training. I get the Gleason's emails, they've sprayed me with notes about how they will be incredibly fastidious regarding hygiene and cleanliness when allowed to re-open the doors. The weekly Gleason's budget for Clorox went up 17%, word is.
“I do not think Gleason's Gym should be included with NY Sports Clubs or yoga studios,” Silverglade told me. “Gleason's Gym should be similar to the Brooklyn Nets. They have permission to train at the Barclays Center, just one mile from Gleason's Gym, to prepare for the return of audience-free basketball games. My professional boxers should be able to train for audience free boxing shows.”
Indeed; one can argue that these pro boxers, who haven't reached those “promised land” paydays that so many NBAers enjoy, should ideally receive first dibs on getting back to work. They don't fight, they don't eat. The nest egg of a Knick or Net allows them to handle the pandemic hiatus without having to worry about making rent or having the electricity turned off.
“Professional boxers should not be discriminated against,” said Silverglade, respectfully but with oomph, because he knows his fighters, independent contractors, are struggling to make ends meet in this pricy region.
You might recall the tri-state's Governors banded together and ordered that gym, fitness centers, must close as of 8 PM, on Monday, March 16, part of the push to lessen interactions between people who were carrying the novel coronavirus.
Silverglade has a solution for Cuomo and his advisors and staff, who, it must be acknowledged, are faced with a never ending barrage of responses to the COVID-19 assault on the state. “It is easy to limit my clients, people allowed to enter the gym, to professional boxers,” Silverglade said. “They are licensed by the New York State Athletic Commission and have been issued Federal IDs. I can provide a reopening plan that will fully satisfy the Department of Health.”
Silverglade's reasoning is sound, while his track record as a small business owner is beyond reproach. Here's hoping that the good news for the pro teams can be graciously granted also for athletes who train as hard as those big leaguers do, absorb considerable punishment along the way…and deserve to be treated no worse than the professionals who premium pay and perks. One could argue better–the humble strivers who thwack the speed bag at Gleason's are not prone to put on airs and play the big shot–let's spread the word that these men and women are deserved of being able to return to their sporting home away from home.