Came as a blow to the world in so many ways that we never experienced before. We have talked so much about the spread of the pandemic that how the afterlife will be affected is not on anyone’s mind.
One particular aspect of our lives that will never be the same is how we attend games. Before COVID-19, fans were spirited to attend the games in stadiums, get together with friends in pubs and enjoy betting on live soccer odds at clubs while watching the game live.
But can, we do the same anymore? Will we wearing a face mask when we go to watch our favorite football teams? How will stadiums keep infections and viruses under control? Will there be hand sanitizers all over the stadium? Will our temperature checks become mandatory before entering a game?
The reality will be different when live sports returns after the pandemic.
Let’s find out what changes experts and sports authorities believe will come to the sports arena once life returns to normal.
“To think that things are going to get back to normal soon, it may be a mistake to think that things are ever going to get back to normal,” believes Ronald Waldman who is the professor of global health at George Washington University. He has worked with WHO and CDC and believes that there is going to be a certain change in the expectations of people as well as increase awareness towards the environment.
At the moment no one is sure what will happen when sports do come back. Some experts believing that before something like that happens, we will be practicing social distancing for so long that it will be awkward to stay with the norm.
According to Joseph Allen, a professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard University, sports will play a huge role in the aftermath of coronavirus. Sports gatherings can be a model on which the behavior and actions of people can be built for social distancing, such as having every other seat of two empty. He explains, “that expectation will be there, too. It will be about perception, about how people do or don’t feel safe going back into these crowded environments.”
If we go by the numbers, on average a season of NBA game gathers between 15,000 and 20,600 fans. Similarly, the SEC college football games average more than 74,000 spectators per game and the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City packs over 23,000 spectators to watch Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and other such dominant tennis stars.
But can we expect the same turnout once the sporting events do come back?
A study poll conducted by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business surveyed Americans if they would attend sporting events after the pandemic even if a vaccine for coronavirus is not made. Surprisingly, 72% of Americans said no.
According to Andrew Peterson, a professor, and sports medicine specialist at the University of Iowa, the risk of transmission to the crowd is real. We still can manage a small group of people and do things to mitigate the risk with better cleaning and maintenance that would be nearly impossible in a nearly crowded stadium.
What does the future hold for sports after COVID-19?
It’s hard to say. Governments, teams and health experts will have to come to a consensus together to roll out sports in a controlled manner. It is the only viable method to bring people back to attending sports with confidence.
Also rolling out sports in isolated communities first can help us to monitor what it does and how we can offer the best safety to ward off virus spread of any sort. Furthermore, easy access to hand sanitizers and limiting attendance at stadiums so that we have empty seats between fans. Another decision to make is whether the concession stands and drink stands be allowed as people congregate around those.
In the end, experts believe that the return of fans to sports will depend on individual communities. There are going to be communities of fans that are more risk-takers, while other communities are more risk-averse.