The NFL Implements COVID Precautions and Teams Continue to Play

Fans watch from home as the NFL restricts spectators and tries to keep players healthy.

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USAToday.com

With COVID precautions in place, Buccaneers fans cheer amongst cardboard cutouts at Super Bowl 55.

Gershon Price, Guest Writer

Coronavirus has affected the seasons of all American sports, and no sport was more vulnerable to this virus than football. Because football is a high-risk sport due to heavy contact between players, the NFL had to take drastic measures to ensure a safe season. 

A catastrophic loss would have been the loss of players due to the contraction of the disease, and the NFL tried its best to avoid this. Like anyone else, football players are not immune to the virus, and while on the field, they are very much exposed.

While the NFL has implemented social distancing and mask requirements on the sidelines, players could not follow these precautions while on the field. Despite best efforts, during the fourth week of the season, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for Coronavirus. This meant that the Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs without their starting quarterback. 

During this same week, the Tennessee Titans also had COVID-19 problems of their own. The Titans had to reschedule their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers as three players and five personnel tested positive, and and COVID-19 infection rates among the Titan players and personnel continued to grow to outbreak-levels throughout October.

One of the most notable changes the NFL enforced was prohibiting fans from the stadium audience. Not only does this impact the fans around the US who love football, but the players as well. Fans are one of the biggest driving forces a team can use to win a game. Without these fans cheering their team on, NFL players were forced to play in nearly empty stadiums where the only support the players had was from each other. 

As the playoffs neared completion, the NFL actually allowed fans in the stadium’s stands. In the January 17 game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints were allowed to have the stadium at 10% capacity. 

Washington Football and NFL fan, Lewis senior Zach Mendenhall continued to watch an unusual football season compared to those of his past.

“I would love to go to watch parties for Washington games and cheer with my friends and also go to games whenever I get the chance. However, due to Covid, that is no longer possible at the moment. I’m forced to watch football games by myself,” Mendenhall said. 

Mendenhall and many others are now forced to watch and cheer for their football teams alone. This may weaken the love for the game as football has always been a reason to come together with friends and celebrate the team you love. 

The 20-21 NFL season has been like no other the world has ever seen. Whether it’s the fans or the players, everyone has been affected by this devastating virus. All we can do now is look to the future when hopefully, one day, gathered together we can watch the game of football.