Impact of COVID in the NFL

COVID-19 has clearly had a major impact on the world, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of professional sports leagues like the National Football League (NFL). 

Football is one of the most physically demanding sports that involves lots of contact, which is a crucial reason for the concerns that people have relating to the NFL. Along with this, many star players have been forced to sit out for weeks due to COVID-19-related issues.

Another problem that was introduced due to COVID-19 was the introduction of new vaccination policies for players who wanted to be eligible to play. It was to the benefit of the players to be vaccinated: for their health, and for the sake of being able to play. The NFL requires unvaccinated players to be tested daily, and if they do test positive, they are out for 10 days, no matter if they’re asymptomatic or not. Vaccinated players on the other hand, only had to be tested if they had symptoms, and when they became asymptomatic again, or once five days passed, they were cleared to play again. It got to the point where some players would actually fake their vaccination status, including Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ safety Mike Edwards, and former Buccaneers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown, to name a few. Their reasoning may be controversial, but obviously not all players have the same beliefs when it comes to getting vaccinated.

During the 2020-2021 NFL season, it would have been too risky to have actual people in attendance at the games, so no one was allowed to attend throughout the season. Because of this, the league shifted to a system where they had “fake fans” watching the games with fan noises being played on speakers to replicate actual fans being at the games.

Although this seemed like a smart choice, many people were obviously upset and wanted to watch their teams play in person, rather than having to rely on a television to keep them entertained. For the 2021-2022 season, fans were allowed to attend games once again, which did lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Whether someone agrees with the decision or not, it is clear that COVID-19 has changed the viewing and playing experience for fans and players alike, and this may be the case for years to come.