As we anticipate the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, we all look forward to some signs of the end of this dread disease. Many of us expect the return of a surging economy. Almost all of us look forward to hugging a dear friend, child, or grandchild. Some look forward to a return to work after an extended layoff. Those are the essential things of life. However, more than a few of us look to sports as an escape, a relief, if you will, from the things that worry us. So the question of will sports return to normal, is part of that fiber of our collective being. So, Gildshire took a deep dive into the question, “Will sports return to normal?” We took each major sport and tried to forecast an answer to our query. First, though, let’s talk about where we are right now.
How many players and spectators are allowed to attend a sporting event during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The National Football league playoffs, which have just three games to go, have included anywhere from 10-21% of stadium capacity. The exact number varies, depending on state and local COVID-19 precautions. Gildshire’s expectations for the future are that stadiums will be at near full capacity, in most states, by next September when it is time to kick off the 2021/22 season.
The basketball season just got underway a couple of weeks ago. A few teams are allowing a limited number of fans, but arenas are, for the most part, empty.
The soccer schedule remains fluid. The league took a massive financial hit last season due to the absence of fans. Major League Soccer’s TV contract is small when compared to the other major sports. So, the MLS needs to tailor its season to the return of fans. Right now, the season is scheduled to begin in March. Stay tuned for news.
The beginning of the baseball season is set in stone at the beginning of April. The fan situation, though, is set in Jell-O. Gildshire anticipates that baseball stadiums will be sparse at the beginning, with larger crowds welcomed in as most of the population gets vaccinated. We hope that the World Series in October is seen in person by thousands, even though Opening Day will be witnessed by tens.
How can I safely attend a sporting event during the COVID-19 pandemic?
First of all, if you are lucky enough to be invited to attend a game, wear a mask, and social distance! The Center for Disease Control says the following about attending a game in person:
“The more people someone interacts with, the closer, the longer, and the more frequent the interaction, and the more contact with frequently touched surfaces, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Indoor events pose a greater risk than outdoor events.
The greater the number of sporting events someone attends, the greater the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 can be different, depending on the type of sporting event someone attends, or the way they participate in the sporting event, as well as the number of COVID-19 cases, both where they live and where the sporting event is taking place.”
The CDC further recommends that those who attend games refrain from the traditional “high-five” except with members of their immediate cohabitants of the same home.
As you can tell, it isn’t perfect, even if you get to a game in person. But, we are turning the corner on the coronavirus, or very soon will be. Will sports return to normal this year? Not completely. But the blessing of the vaccine is that we won’t have to have this conversation next year. Stay safe, everyone.