Looking forward to a 2020 NFL return, especially after the 2020 draft? The NFL seems ready to proceed with their normal Fall game schedule, but Dr. Fauci and the CDC say this may not be the best approach to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Sports fans are eager for a return to sports — With or without fans, leagues are also looking to return to their regularly scheduled programming. In an interview with Peter King of NBC Sports during his segment Football Morning in America, Dr. Fauci warned about potential consequences of a hasty return.
“It’s feasible that negative-testing players could play to an empty stadium …Is it guaranteed? No way,” says Fauci.
It’s feasible that negative-testing players could play to an empty stadium …Is it guaranteed? No way.
When King asked about potential practice and game scenarios for the NFL ahead of their 2020 season, Fauci was quick to reply with how covid-19 could delay the NFL’s hope for regularly-scheduled games.
“You got a problem there. You know why? Because it is likely that if four of them are positive and they’ve been hanging around together, that the other ones that are negative are really positive. So, I mean, if you have one outlier, I think you might get away. But once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down,” suggests Fauci.
The good news? Even though these precautions could obviously slow things down, Fauci does say NFL games in an empty stadium might work.
“I think it’s feasible that negative testing players could play to an empty stadium,” Fauci said. “Is it guaranteed? No way… There will be virus out there and you will know your players are negative at the time they step onto the field. You’re not endangering… Also, if the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart. I mean, that’s something that is again feasible depending on the level of infection. I keep getting back to that: It’s going to depend.”
He also mentions other contributing factors to a potential spread, or decrease, like the timing between testing and the infection. For example, a player who is infected and tested the next day may not test positive for Covid-19. Another factor is timing—He points out how different life was three months for most of us, and that the next three months could look drastically different—Only time will tell.
Although the NFL is looking to a future without fans in the stadium, however, that doesn’t mean they’re quick to get rid of the noise from the crowd—The NFL is looking to add false stadium noises to future games in lieu of an actual audience. Although nothing has been officially confirmed, during an interview with Andy Cohen, Joe Buck said it’s “Pretty much a done deal.”
And it doesn’t stop there—He also mentioned a visual, virtual audience presence, too. Says Buck, “They’re looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands, so when you see a wide shot it looks like the stadium is jam-packed and in fact it’ll be empty.”
So, although there’s a lot of talk around what will happen between Covid-19 and a 2020 NFL return (and return to sports in general!), there’s hope sports fans will not only see a return to sports, but a safe return.