The coronavirus put the world on hold, closed thousands of local businesses, and canceled the beloved March Madness college basketball tournament for the first time in history. For months, we all locked ourselves in our homes, not daring to risk exposure from the outside world.
Professional sports leagues took various precautions, shutting down games in the middle of the season, putting a hold on the NBA playoffs and the beginning of the MLB season. But it seems that one major sports league has been handling the situation well: the NFL.
While many think the NFL is a coronavirus hotspot, they are mistaken. According to Sportingnews.com, a total of 58,000 tests have been issued to around 8,000 players and personnel. Of this mass testing, just ten tests came back positive, a rate of less than 0.0002%.
Behind the scenes of the multi-billion dollar industry, engineers have been working on player safety for years, but this year, a new type of safety has taken center stage. Rather than focusing on helmets and pads, the NFL has shifted its focus towards the coronavirus.
One particular German company, Kinexon, designed a “Safe Zone Tag.” Players and staff must wear the light device on their body at all times in order to track players’ interactions. In the event that players or staff are within six feet of each other for more than five seconds, audible warnings will alert the respective personnel to relocate themselves.
In these uncertain times, the NFL has to ensure the safety of not only their players but also of the tens of thousands of people who attend games each week; 69,596 seats at Lincoln Financial field are empty. Due to Philadelphia’s mandate prohibiting no gatherings larger than fifty people outside, it is likely that these seats will remain empty for a large portion of the season.
The home-field advantage is one of the biggest factors of a winning team, especially for the New Orleans Saints. Their stadium, The Superdome, records about 130 decibels, equivalent to a military aircraft taking off. This sound causes confusion for the opposing team and can often influence the game script. This year, the only sound televisions emit are auto-generated by the NFL, imitating the fans within the stadium.
The National Football League has done an excellent job of making sure that fans, players, and personnel are not undergoing any unnecessary risks to the coronavirus. Despite the precautions put in place, many teams plan to open up their stadiums for fans, which may spread the coronavirus even further. As stadiums begin to reopen to the masses, will the NFL or the coronavirus prevail?