Sports teams take small steps to allow fans back

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Photo courtesy of Dean Hochman CC BY 2.0

Sports fans across the country have been waiting patiently to go back to games and this opportunity has finally been given back to them.

By Garrett Kessler

As the professional sports seasons for 2020 are wrapping up, the question of “can we go see sports in person?” is starting to be answered for 2021. 

The coronavirus pandemic stripped away the opportunity to go see your favorite professional athletes perform at the highest level. However, many organizations such as the NCAA, MLB, NFL, etc. are working on plans to bring fans back in limited numbers. In particular, the NCAA and NFL have already successfully brought back a limited number of fans to their games.

Sophomore Joe Ganton went to a Rutgers University football game this past fall and explained the different procedures being taken as opposed to a normal game before the pandemic. 

“I didn’t have to take a COVID-19 test but I had my temperature taken and had to wear a mask the entire time,” Ganton said. “It was also so strange to look around the stadium to see empty seats surrounding me.”

Although there are restrictions on how many fans are allowed, it is definitely a step up from either no sports, which we experienced last spring, or only being able to watch on T.V. which was the reality for the summer of 2020. 

One of the biggest steps the sports world took was in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs where teams were allowed to let in a range of 3,000-16,000 fans to watch the games while still adhering to league protocols. It was also recently announced that the Super Bowl would be allowed to seat 22,000 fans which makes many hopeful that attending their home team’s football games next fall will be a possibility. 

As more sports are underway with games occurring every day, there are also more updates on how the leagues are dealing with COVID-19. For example, the Miami Heat have been bringing fans back to the arena, using COVID-19 detecting dogs to sniff fans upon entry. The fans already have to take a rapid test to sit in the stands, so the dogs are just being used as a precaution. If the NBA wants to bring back fans slowly, the Miami heat have introduced a great and safe way to do so. 

This will most likely be the reality for all indoor professional sports as it is known that the coronavirus spreads easier when inside. However, for outdoor sports the fans could have a much different experience. So far, the MLB has made a universal plan to allow fans into stadiums without any required test and keep them distanced and masked. It is up to the individual teams to adjust these guidelines to fit their states’ protocols. Obviously, MLB games will look a lot different around the country with different states having spikes in cases, but nonetheless, the news put smiles on many baseball fans’ faces around the country. 

In reality, all outdoor sports such as baseball, football, golf and tennis are able to bring fans in some capacity without any major issues. All of these sports are outdoors with the fans being far away from the players in most cases. 

With all that is happening in the sports world it seems as though the plans for bringing fans back to games are moving in the right direction and we could see many sports teams allowing fans back in stadiums on a regular basis this year.