COVID-19's Effect on the NFL
COVID-19 has struck the NFL. There has been an outbreak in the Tennessee Titans locker room where 16 total players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. New England Patriots star quarterback, Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 and there have been other individual cases around the NFL. It is important that the NFL finds a better way to handle the virus because the current rules are putting the players at risk. Football is the most popular sport in America so the potential economic impact is huge and the postponement of more games can completely alter how the season plays out.
One NFL roster includes 53 active players and 14 practice squad players. Each team also has over 50 coaches and trainers and an entire media team. Due to the amount of people involved with the teams, it’s impossible for the NFL to follow the NBA’s lead and make a bubble. Prior to the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, players were being tested twice a week. Since the outbreak, the NFL has gone to daily testing and has vouched to be stricter with their COVID-19 policy. Players are mandated to wear masks at all times, except when practicing, and must have their temperature taken before entering the team facility. Each player must wear Kinexon’s SafeZone tag which provides a warning when a player is too close to another person. Violations of the rules set in place by the NFL Players Association will result in a fine and possible suspension.
One rule in the NFL that has received a lot of scrutiny is that certain teams allow fans to come to games. Not only does this rule give the 11 teams which permit fans an unfair home field advantage, it also puts the players and team workers in jeopardy. The teams that allow fans only fill a percentage of the stadium, but this could still lead to large groups of people. For example, the Dallas Cowboys still allow up to 21,708 fans to be in attendance at home games in their indoor stadium. While all fans are mandated to wear a mask, the reality is that people eat and drink during the three hour games. This results in people taking off their masks and spreading germs to other fans. Family members of players frequently attend games, putting themselves at risk for contracting the virus and therefore jeopardizing the players’ health. a
The NFL is the by far the most popular sports league in America. The three NFL primetime weekly games combined for over 47 million average weekly viewers in 2019. Sunday night, Thursday Night, and Monday Night Football were the three highest viewed weekly television programs in the country in 2019. If the NFL cannot play, the entertainment industry will take a major hit and put America into an even bigger recession.
Part of what makes NFL players so good is their preparation. The uncertainty behind whether they will have a game, will hurt their weekly routine. Just four weeks into the season, there have already been problems with the NFL schedule that has led to the rescheduling of the Steelers vs Titans game. If the NFL constantly reschedules games, the players' psyche will be affected and lead to worse performance on the field. COVID-19 has caused major mental health issues and will continue hurting NFL players and coaches. COVID-19 has affected everybody's lives and has now chosen the NFL as its next victim.