How is the NFL Season and Being Affected by COVID-19?

How is the NFL Season and Being Affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has flipped the world as we knew it upside down, our world has changed at an unprecedented speed since the outbreak in Wuhan. We have had to change the way we operate in our personal and professional lives by following guidelines for safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the sporting world dramatically. 

The NFL season is going ahead after the NFL Players Association Board of Representatives decided to allow training camps to open as long as they operate in accordance with new rules, which will reduce the risk for fans, players, and clubs. The training camps first open for Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, followed by the rest a week later. The season will begin September 10, but players have been told to not expect any preseason games. 

Training during the peak of the pandemic was completely canceled as it involved face-to-face contact, which may pose a new challenge to teams as each player will be at a different fitness level due to the differing amount of time and effort each player has put into the training. In order to stay safe, the training will be conducted using masks when appropriate and following social distancing guidelines. Another challenge teams are facing is the number of players that are deciding to opt out of the seasons because of Coronavirus concerns, which was started by Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who put a statement on social media explaining how he is not willing to obtain or transmit the virus to others for sport. Following his statement, a further 40 players have dropped out of the league either for their own health or their families, which could increase as the deadline for August 6. Those players who are considered high-risk are still receiving $350,000, and players who are not at risk but are still dropping out are receiving $150,000. 

Coronavirus is affecting the salaries of the NFL players, as there is a cap of $198.2 million per team which is expected to lower to $175 million in 2021, but with the potential to rise depending on the profits made. The loss of revenue is already high and expected to rise during the season, so instead of teams having a dramatic reduction to their salary - it will be spread out until 2024. As well as plans to pay back any players guaranteed money that they did not receive as a result of the pandemic up until 2023. 

How the training camps operate is going to be very different. They are likely to start with 4 days of Coronavirus testing to reduce the chances of players having to pause training with illness and reduce the chance of transmission to other players. Which will be followed by 2 days of physicals, then a week of strength and conditioning work, and the 6 days of training with helmets and shells only (no pads). Players will have 1 day off every 7 days, for rest and to reduce the chance of overworking resulting in injuries. 

However, once the season begins there will be another set of problems the NFL will have to tackle. Whilst they have a range of benefits that they can capitalize on (unlike other sports) like longer periods between games and fewer games, there is a high chance of a large deadly spike hitting the USA which would pause the season entirely. Furthermore, the close proximity between the players is a risk, as if one player is infected - the rest will fall ill like dominos, including players from the opposite team that the infected team member was playing against. Every game will be a danger, as there is no way to social distance during the sport, unlike the ability to play baseball or golf. 

Another way that COVID-19 is changing sports as a whole is that there will be no screaming, passionate, and morale-boosting fans to cheer on for the team they support. It is certainly an odd thought picturing empty football stadiums. COVID is not only affecting the player’s experience but how the fans are going to see the season. It is a daunting thought to think - when will it be safe to allow fans back into stadiums? 

The sporting world has had to alter its operations over the last few months, and the NFL has followed suit to ensure the safety of those who are involved with the games. As a result, the games may look different but will provide the same entertainment and enjoyment to all Americans. 

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