Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member on the White House coronavirus task force, has been the go-to guy for information during this pandemic. Perhaps sports fans should listen up loud and clear, as he believes the fate of the upcoming NFL season depends on all of us as a society.
However, it’s a bit more complex in certain ways. After all, the players on the field could potentially be an even bigger threat to our society if they’re mixed amongst the people – and not quarantined.
“This is a respiratory virus, so it’s going to be spread by shedding (the) virus,” Fauci told NBCSports.com. “The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasopharynx, and it sheds, and I wipe my hand against my nose — now it’s on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it’s on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours. Sweat, as such, won’t transmit it.
“But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect setup for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field — a middle linebacker, a tackle, whoever it is it — as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person.
“If you really want to be in a situation where you want to be absolutely certain, you’d test all the players before the game. And you say, ‘Those who are infected: Sorry, you’re sidelined. Those who are free: Get in there and play.’
“Right now, there’s too much infection for there to be a season,” said Fauci. “But I would hope that by the time you get to September, it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
Time To Decide
Luckily, the NFL has four months to decide the next steps. The season is scheduled to kick off on Sept. 10 when the Houston Texans travel to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The following Sunday would have a full slate of games while there would be two more on Sept. 14.
Testing multiple times per week could really be the only way to monitor players in the NFL. Especially with the level of contact there is, who knows if a player could test negative one day and then be infected the next day.
Fauci also said that a football season “will be entirely dependent on the effectiveness with which we, as a society, respond to the inevitable outbreak that will occur” in the fall.
He would add, “So, practically speaking, the success or failure, the ability or not, to actually have a football season is going to depend on just on what I said … but what I’m really saying is it’s unpredictable depending upon how we respond in the fall.”
This is certainly a scary time in our country’s history, with the threat of our beloved NFL season being taken away. It seems like we are a nation divided on how to handle our social distancing practices, as some people will wear masks, and others won’t – some are still hanging out in large groups of people, and others are not.
It would truly be something for the NFL to bring us all together for the first time in a while. If we’re not going to agree on the same things, maybe we can at least practice the same social distancing measures and get some football back in our lives.