The Effect of Covid-19 on the NFL
Covid-19 has caused its fair share of destruction, and one of its biggest victims has been professional sports. Each sport has gone a separate direction in handling Covid-19. Many leagues have continued to play, including the NFL. The National Football League season is composed of 17 weeks of games, followed by the playoffs. Each team plays 16 games (one each week) and has one bye week (a week where it does not play). The playoff games serve to eliminate teams and ultimately lead up to the championship game, the Super Bowl.
The NFL has not changed the format of this season, despite the many challenges surrounding Covid, fans, and “the bubble.” The unedited format of the season has been working so far, but barely. Seven weeks into the season, there have already been many players that tested positive for Covid-19, causing multiple games to be postponed. In order to keep the schedule intact, they have used teams’ bye week to compensate for canceled games, so the normal number of regular-season games could remain the same.
Additionally, every single player in the NFL is required to take a Covid-19 test each day.
The NFL has not handled Covid-19 perfectly, however, nobody thought that the league would be able to survive past week one. Now in week 7, the NFL continues to reform their strategies in handling Covid-19 to keep the players, coaches, and few spectators safe.
If you are even the slightest bit interested in sports, you are well aware of how important fans are. The biggest negative impact that Covid-19 has made on professional sports, including football, is limiting and sometimes eliminating fans at sporting events. Some stadiums allow for up to ⅕ capacity of their seating, while others don't allow any fans. Either way, the tremendous energy of a sold-out stadium is severely missed by both players and supporters.
The lack of fans has also caused crucial changes in the tactical parts of some sports. For example, in baseball, a home-field advantage now has much less benefit without the cheering fans. Home teams have lost that extra boost of energy that they get from 40,000 or more of their biggest fans cheering for them. This change places teams’ energy on a relatively equal playing field, regardless of the location of the game.
The true impact of a fanless stadium will be exposed when playoff time comes. Football teams compete ruthlessly in the regular season to get to the playoff games and have a guaranteed home-field advantage. However, this year, that traditional home-field advantage will be less of a motivator for teams striving to make it to the playoff games. Regardless of what happens in the remainder of the season, this NFL season will go down in history as one of the most unique ones ever; it will also be fascinating to see how the rest of it plays out.