If there is one thing that a pandemic can, or should be able to, teach football fans, it’s that you can’t always escape the world through sports. Sports can serve as a fantastic escape from our everyday lives, and I talk about this a lot, but life has a funny way of intervening from the things that we rely upon as diversions from the norm.
Take Covid-19. As Cameron Heyward said recently, you can’t fend the virus around football. You have to bend football around the virus, because it doesn’t care about what anybody wants to do. It’s going to do what it’s going to do, and it won’t slow down just because it’s inconvenient for you.
The world put itself on pause for months to ‘flatten the curve’. We managed to do that in the US, but we clearly screwed up along the way, because we ended up creating a new curve. Over 44,000 new cases yesterday.
For five days in a row, we have seen higher single-day totals in new cases than any one day during the ‘height’ of the pandemic. I qualify height there because the reality is we’re in a new height, now. For the first time ever, the seven-day rolling average of new cases per day eclipsed 40,000 yesterday. Think about that. This is the backdrop against which we enter July and wait for NFL teams to report to training camp.
The league and the NFLPA are still working through health and safety protocols, but they are in a good place in that regard, according to DeMaurice Smith. “We’re getting granular on the protocols”, he told USA Today Sports recently.
“But, and this is a huge but, what’s good for the country is good for football. People need to wear a mask”, he added. “It’s not a political issue. Anyone who thinks it is, as my grandfather would say, perhaps needs a good country slap”.
“Look at it this way. If our fans truly want football back, and we all want an uninterrupted season, there is no greater exercise of fan loyalty than to engage in social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, and do your best to mitigate the spread of this virus”, Smith continued. “We’re all in this together, and a few people who for whatever reason refuse to abide by things that are gonna impact how the rest of us live, those are the things that are the biggest threats, right now, to whether we have a full season”.
Under a best-case scenario, whether or not specific teams will be allowed to permit fans to attend games will be determined by local guidance, and that will be based on how they’re handling the virus. Under a worst-case scenario, it will determine if it’s even reasonable to play games in the first place. So yeah. If you care about football, wear a mask.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith tells @mackenziesalmon, “If our fans truly want football back, there is no greater exercise of fan loyalty than to engage in social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands and do your best to mitigate the spread of this virus.” pic.twitter.com/KhsF59Rtpe
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) June 27, 2020