Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are still living in the time of a pandemic, as we approach the start of NFL training camps (which is still slated to open on time at the end of July) and the preseason (which is being cut in half).
And as if you needed another reminder, here’s this from Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic:
NFL wants fans in stadiums come September, but they might have to sign a Covid-19 waiver. My story https://t.co/Gs6Zc3JI6Z
— Daniel Kaplan (@KaplanSportsBiz) July 1, 2020
Kaplan reports the NFL is considering requiring fans who attend games at stadiums this coming season to sign liability waivers, which would protect teams from COVID-19 related lawsuits. It’s just one nugget in a report that also notes that teams are expected to follow in the footsteps of the Atlanta Falcons and go with cash-less operations this season, as part of their attempt to keep the money flowing at stadiums with fans during a pandemic. And that the league is considering making it a policy that fans entering stadiums are required to wear masks, adding that teams could push this message as a public safety tool.
But for the moment, let’s focus on the fans in the stands aspect of this report.
In June, Chicago Bears CEO Ted Phillips said that he was “hopeful” the team can play at Soldier Field with fans in the stands in 2020. And if Illinois is still in Phase 4 by the time the NFL season kicks off, fans might be allowed into the stadium — albeit at a fraction of the capacity. That’s neat. But remember that NFL stadium fan capacities will differ from state-to-state, which is going to lead to some sort of competitive imbalances, as well as added health risks. Because, yes, we’re still living in the time of a pandemic. Those are things that need to be taken into consideration as we look forward to the football season that is on the horizon.
I recently found myself getting geared up for football season at the end of June. Part of that is because my mind is conditioned to think about football this time of year because that’s just how the sports calendar falls. But as news like this continues to trickle out, hype for a season will subside and replaced by hope that said season will come. Because while the NFL is planning on it, a simple look around the sports landscape should serve as a reminder of how quickly plans can change.