The NFL is gearing up for its 2020 season with everyone across the league expecting it to begin on Sept. 10 with the NFL Kickoff Game. If the NFL follows through on its plan to start the 2020 season, though, it could also create an alarming domino effect for the league.
While the NFL is already creating strict social distancing guidelines for when players arrive for training camp, the league is also still preparing as though many fans will be able to attend games this September. Meanwhile, with multiple states experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases, the league still wants players to report for training camp in the middle of July.
“We were expecting a second wave to start in October, November. But with things going the way they are, this wave we’re in right now may not end. So you’re talking about a long-term consequence of what could happen if we don’t, as a country, get everything under control.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed confidence the 2020 season will start on time, and the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills is also feeling optimistic for the NFL’s chances. The league can create all the safety protocols it wants, including a plan to test players multiple times per week, but it still might not be enough if the NFL doesn’t implement mandatory quarantines before training camp starts. Dr. Baker continued:
“The disease doesn’t care that they’re elite athletes. I don’t think the season is going to look the same as they think it might look. I think it’s more a function of how we’ve handled things [as a country]. Now, we’re getting this uptick in cases because we’re not having the best response about testing and mitigation of the disease.”
The NFL expects to have players and coaches test positive for the coronavirus during training camp and the regular season, which would lead to players being temporarily held in isolation. But football is a contact sport, and with the amount of contact and interaction players and coaches have, Baker expects every NFL team to have at least one person test positive.
Baker isn’t alone in her fears for the NFL season. In fact, one of the league’s top team doctors talked about the difficulties the league is facing and how a second wave of the coronavirus would be devastating for the league.
It will all depend on how the United States continues to respond to the coronavirus, with a need for people to still wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Even if that happens, though, the NFL must also have the policies in place to avoid experiencing an outbreak similar to the one the NBA went through.
If the NFL can’t avoid it and its safety protocols fail to protect league employees, a suspension of the 2020 NFL season might become inevitable.