News broke last week about the NFL’s plan for dealing with the coronavirus in the 2020 season. The plan is instead of having a plan, they will rely on local guidelines to determine how many fans can be at games and what precautions to follow. It is a bold move to follow the decisions that have caused spikes across half the country in the last few weeks, but the NFL clearly wants to limit their losses in ticket sales as opposed to doing their best to keep both players and fans safe.
As we know, the NFL pulls in $3 billion per year based on fan attendance. If the NFL was not motivated by money, they may hire specialists to find out if it is even safe for fans to be at the stadiums. Are there differences in open stadiums? Enclosed stadiums? Is there ample space to move fans back and forth to concession stands at halftime? Instead of finding out, the league currently intends to punt.
Is this enough for fans? Not for Justin, a Falcons season ticket holder of five years who got the coronavirus in late March. He was happy to share his views as someone who has both been paying for seats and has dealt with COVID-19 first hand.
I don’t plan on setting foot in the Benz this season. Honestly, I think it’s a terrible idea for any stadiums to be open to fans in any capacity. Unfortunately our country looks to shatter all of the records for cases and I can’t imagine how much worse things will get once flu season rolls around again.
Justin typically headed to his seats in section 102 with friends after taking MARTA, and would tailgate for prime time and Saints games. He is not comfortable with that anymore after dealing with some tough, prolonged symptoms at only age 35 without any underlying conditions.
I had wide range of symptoms. Shortness of breath, cough, chills, nightly fevers, exhaustion, body aches, etc. I had an ER visit one night in April because I was having trouble breathing. Fortunately they were able to treat me and send me home to continue quarantining. Since the early part of June, my symptoms have left me and this is probably the best I’ve felt since March. I still deal with some periods of exhaustion, and my heart rate hasn’t been quite normal since. I’ve had several doctor’s visits including going in for a CT scan to check my lungs and chest area for any further complications. While I’m doing much better than before, my body feels noticeably different than it was in March. I wish this thing were just the flu like some people like to claim. This is so much worse, especially with so much we still don’t know.
Those symptoms are a lot for anyone to risk for a Falcons game, but we need to remember not every Falcons fan is in their 30s. Many others are older with underlying health issues, and may be risking far worse consequences. Justin did not think it made sense for anyone to watch football in stadiums.
Unfortunately, our country looks to shatter all of the records for [coronavirus] cases and I can’t imagine how much worse things will get once flu season rolls around again. How would that even work? Especially if we could potentially be headed for lock down in certain regions of the country? And what would that mean for competitive advantage for teams based in cities without lock down?
The league has effectively shrugged their shoulders at maintaining a competitive advantage. To be fair, the NFL has frequently overlooked the quality of the game in favor of money. Games in 2012 were decided by unqualified refs, a great way to unnecessarily damage the brand of a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
If the current plans continue, the coronavirus will be at the center of all football coverage. We will have breaking news on new guidelines after cities have a spike in infections, and perhaps a running list of the number of fans infected, hospitalized, and dead from attending a game. Look at the NBA’s current plan: The league announced a move to play games in Orlando at the beginning of June. By the end of June, Florida is one of the biggest hotspots in the world and those plans appear dangerous. Imagine the NFL forced to change course once a month, if not more often, to the constantly changing conditions across the nation.
This is not the XFL which needed fans for a chance to stay afloat. NFL owners are just looking at the possibility of earnings being down from an estimated $17 billion down to $14 billion for one year.
Justin suggests avoiding games entirely.
I don’t think there is anything the NFL could do to make me feel comfortable attending a game this season. I can only hope fans realize how dangerous this virus is and they stay away. Football will still be there when we get out of this.
He’s ready to return in 2021, assuming there is a vaccine and doctors know more about treating the virus. Until then, he is avoiding all mass gatherings.
All I want is for people to wear their masks. All the cool kids are doing it. If not to look out for their fellow citizens, then at least to make sure we can have some Falcon football to enjoy in 2020.
The NFL has yet to make anything official, but training camp is still go for July 28th, with the Falcons facing off against the Miami Dolphins on August 14. Tickets are still selling for the game that is about 6 weeks out. The NFL running out of time to make a better decision for fans and players.