GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended the decision to label World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and other professional sports as “essential services” during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that people were “starved for content.”
“People are chomping at the bit,” DeSantis told reporters at the Florida Capitol, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“If you think about it, we have never had a period like this in modern American history where you’ve had so little new content, particularly in the sporting realm. I mean, we are watching reruns from like the early 2000s.”
From FL Gov. Ron DeSantis’s COVID-19 briefing earlier: After the “one more question” warning went out, a reporter started asking about WWE, he interrupted and gave a rambling answer that was mostly rooted in how little new “content" the general public has to watch right now. pic.twitter.com/6WDpWUyJ95
— David Bixenspan (@davidbix) April 14, 2020
The comments from DeSantis came just a day after the mayor of Orange County, Florida, where a WWE training facility is located, confirmed that the wrestling entertainment business had been deemed “essential.”
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management issued a memo on April 9 noting that employees at pro sports and media productions with a national audience would be added to the list of “essential services” as long as events were closed to the public.
The memo amended DeSantis’s executive order, mandating people remain home unless they are working in a job deemed essential.
DeSantis argued on Tuesday that televised sporting events closed to the public could be a “good thing” from a “psychological perspective.”
He suggested that a NASCAR race without a large crowd could be a possibility as well as a one-on-one golf challenge between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
“You wouldn’t have the crowds,” DeSantis said. “Put that on TV. People are starved for content. We haven’t had a lot of new content since the beginning of March.”
The WWE said in a statement that it is “producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance … while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff.”
“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE said.
DeSantis on Wednesday refuted any legitimate connection between his decision to deem WWE an essential service and the McMahon family’s relationship with President Trump.
Florida Gov. DeSantis says there’s no legitimate connection between WWE being deemed as an essential service and the McMahon family’s relationship with President Trump. pic.twitter.com/GXmKCuNUcQ
— Ryan Satin (@ryansatin) April 15, 2020