It was a bit touch and go for a while, but unlike in Canada, where the pro football season was scrapped, it’s back in the U.S. despite COVID-19 threatening to run the NFL season into the ground.
While the NFL is tackling the pandemic through new rules and testing protocols, there’s no doubting that the pandemic is having an impact, says Peter Nyberg, an avid sports and fitness enthusiast who serves as the CFO at Camino Community Center aimed at improving lives for low-income and underprivileged people in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But unless there’s a sudden spike in coronavirus cases due to COVID-19, it’s full steam ahead for this season. The game experience will just be a bit different for fans as well as for players and staff.
Live Attendance Will Vary by State
Unlike other big leagues where there is no live attendance this season (you can still be a “virtual” NBA fan), you’ll still have a chance to attend an NFL game — depending on what state you live in. For example, says Peter Nyberg, the Buffalo Bills will not welcome any fans to its first two home games, while the Miami Dolphins are opening seating at 20 percent capacity for their home opener.
Others, like the Dallas Cowboys, plan to open up seating at less than half of the stadium’s capacity, while also stressing the importance of maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. The team is also taking other measures including issuing no paper tickets and using electronic payments at concessions. Meanwhile, the Cowboys recently played the Los Angeles Rams in the new SoFi stadium, with no fans in attendance.
But don’t give up hope yet if you’re hoping to see a pro football game in person this season; the seats could open back up as things progress.
Some Players Will be Missing
When you watch an NFL game this year, you might not see some of your favorite players, says Peter Nyberg. That’s because the league gave players a choice whether to play or opt-out for the 2020 campaign.
Some players have decided not to play this season that were deemed high risk, but still receive a stipend. Meanwhile, other players who decided against on-field action voluntarily receive a salary advance instead.
For example, some of the bigger name players you won’t see doing their thing this season include Eddie Goldman of the Chicago Bears, Star Lotulelei of the Buffalo Bills, Nate Solder of the New York Giants, and Michael Pierce of the Minnesota Vikings. In all, 67 players decided to opt out before the deadline, including two players on the Kansas City Chiefs who is the defending Super Bowl champion.
Peter Nyberg on Added Precautions
However, the league is taking precautions such as using masks and daily COVID-19 testing since the beginning of training camps and it plans to continue this protocol as the season progresses. The league takes any positive tests seriously, including isolating players and requiring a green light from the team’s doctor to return. Because the virus also seems to have negative effects on the heart, there’s also cardiac screening for the players to go through.
While the pandemic has shaken things up in terms of NFL protocol, there’s still plenty of pro football to look forward to in the meantime, says Peter Nyberg.