The State of the Game: Football
May 7, 2020
So far, the NFL has been the least affected major sports league when it comes to coronavirus. Players were able to finish the 2019 season as scheduled and faced no hiccups at all as a result of COVID-19. This is a major relief to them, as other leagues have had to suspend their seasons, losing out on tons of money.
But this isn’t to say the NFL won’t feel the effects of this pandemic. The NFL Draft, the biggest NFL event of the entire offseason, will be 100% digital as opposed to the major crowd it would attract year after year previously. This year, prospective draft picks will be connected via webcam to have their reactions to being drafted broadcast on television, as opposed to being at the event itself in person. Roger Godell, commissioner of the NFL, will be announcing the picks from his home basement.
Other than the draft, portions of teams’ offseason workouts have been axed, preventing the players from getting the necessary conditioning. The most important thing to the NFL, however, is the regular season and playoffs, and as of now that is a very hard thing to estimate. Some states are beginning the process of phasing out of lockdown and quarantine, which bodes well for the NFL. The way things are planned to go, the NFL should be able to operate in every state in time for the planned start of the regular season; however, a few factors could interrupt this process. The biggest thing that could mess this up is the possibility of a second wave hitting. If a second wave hits, that will certainly delay the process of phasing out of lockdown, and could definitely force the NFL to push back or cancel the regular season. As of right now, the WHO is warning countries experiencing a decrease in cases to remain prepared for a second wave, which means that scientists likely believe that a second wave is probable. Another factor to keep in mind is what step of the process that we will be in by the time the regular season rolls around. A likely possibility could be that while travel and work restrictions are lifted that large gatherings could still perhaps be forbidden, which would mean that even though the competition itself could possibly take place, having the fans in the stands wouldn’t be legal. This situation would mean that either the NFL could push back the season to a time when fans could be in attendance, or play at the scheduled time without fans, meaning that they would have to pay back those who already bought tickets, missing out on massive amounts of revenue. Unfortunately, for those at the top of the NFL, a whole bunch of this is simply up to chance.