By Nico Stathopolous
As we all know, Covid-19 has affected everyone and everything in our lives. Everything we once thought was normal has now been changed completely. One main industry’s future that has been majorly questioned is the sports industry. Specifically how, when, and if fans can return to spectate in the future. There are three main ways that the sports industry will attempt to adapt their typical practices to in the near future. The choices are having full stadiums with masks, partially full stadiums where social distancing is practiced throughout, or no spectators whatsoever. Of course, each of these precautions has its benefits and its drawbacks.
The first and most tricky scenario is having fans return with mandatory mask usage. This will most likely take place when a city’s Covid-19 numbers are close to zero every day for an extended period of time. It would allow for sports events to have their original fans return to spectate and cheer for them, having a major influence, in a few ways. This would also allow for a significant boost to businesses that originally partook in the events such as various dining companies, ticket sales companies, sponsors, and much more. However, demanding that spectators wear a face-covering in this situation will be near impossible. There will always be some that oppose the rule yet have a passion for sports. This scenario also has the highest risk of an outbreak, something that no one wants to deal with.
The second scenario will involve a partial return of fans who have to follow strict physical distancing rules. When case numbers see a decline, this idea could become more and more possible. We have already seen this method be used in some sports events across the world, specifically in areas with low case numbers. This scenario would almost bring the best of both worlds: attending events while having a lower risk of catching the virus. It would also allow businesses involved to start earning some of their revenue they’ve missed out on in the past months.
Finally, there is the option of returning to sports without any spectators inside whatsoever. This is what is currently happening as the Covid-19 case numbers are significantly high in some places, like Toronto. It completely isolates the players (provided player compliance) and almost completely eliminates the risk of the virus spreading within the facilities. Some have even seen this as a positive in playoff scenarios as it eliminates the “home team advantage,” of the fans cheering during a home playoff game. It does however cause major losses for companies that would normally thrive on the inclusion of fans.
In conclusion, the top priority during the pandemic is keeping everyone safe. If that can’t be done, something wrong is clearly occurring. Of course, it should always be known that any of these options could be modified to provide a safe experience for all. As passionate fans become more and more eager to return to live sports, the proper decisions should be made for the seasons to come.
Photo By Rongy Chai