Context is important but as things stand right now, Pennsylvania isn’t allowed to have any fans in the stands. That’s what Governor Wolf said over the weekend when asked about sporting events.
“The status right now is no fans,” Wolf said. “The only ones who have thought about fans is the NFL and it’s conditional. They’re selling tickets but are giving refunds if the games aren’t held before spectators.”
With sports gearing up to return, this has become a more relevant issue. The NBA and NHL are on track to return over the next 6-8 weeks while baseball is slogging its way through an ugly negotiation.
It’s unclear how much the virus must decrease for that status to change. Western PA has largely moved to the “green” phase, allowing all businesses to open back up. But central and eastern PA remain in the yellow and red phases, with heavier restrictions. By the end of the month, most, if not all, counties should be in the green.
But will that put fans in stands? There is concern over a second wave this fall and winter, a thought that may have local officials play things on the safe side.
No fans will impact the atmosphere and wallet of each league. That’s forced sports to get creative. For example, the NBA is considering used crowd noise from the video game NBA 2K20 during the regular season.
The NBA will consider using NBA2K crowd sounds during the regular season and playoffs to improve the quality of games, via The Athletic.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) June 5, 2020
Perhaps other leagues will follow suit, pumping in their own noise to give a semi-realistic feel to what’s happening on the field/court/ice.
The NFL has continued to benefit with the advantage of time but the preseason is just two months away. Time’s running out for leagues to make a decision on how to handle one of the most challenging seasons in history.