Ontario Hockey League Holds Sports' First Virtual Draft
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to prevent the world from returning to some semblance of normalcy, the Ontario Hockey League became pioneers on Saturday morning by holding sports' first-ever online-only draft. The NFL may be doing something similar come April 23, and it remains well within the realm of possibility that the NBA and NHL will have to do the same thing when their respective drafts roll around come summertime.
While the OHL's operations are obviously on a far lesser scale than what the NFL will put on, some of the basic principles could be borrowed. The whole thing took place on a YouTube livestream, complete with advertisements. Picks were announced by teams on Twitter as the big board on the stream was updated , and highlights were shown of each pick.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect that the NFL might borrow is draft timeouts. Each team was given two timeouts to use-- one for the first five rounds, and another for the remaining ten rounds. The first timeout lasts five minutes while the second lasts three. These could be break-in-case-of-emergency measures should a team encounter technical difficulties while making a pick and help offset the fact that teams won't be able to have their normal war rooms; Adam Schefter reported this morning teams are preparing to do it all virtually.
Again, the NFL's production will be bigger than the OHL's in every respect, as is the NFL's style. But in an unprecedented time, they should be looking everywhere they can to find new ideas to make it go as smoothly as possible. There will be unforeseen trip-ups and errors, but the league should be scouring every possible source to make the event seamless if they decide to still hold the draft. We'll see if they do.