Can you not?
After Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine granted his state’s two NFL teams permission to open their stadiums to a limited number of fans, about 6,000 people attended Thursday night’s Browns-Bengals game in Cleveland.
The governor’s order limited capacity to 1,500 people on each side of the stadium, and the Browns took further measures in hopes of reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission inside the venue. All ticketing is digital, with fans assigned a specific entrance gate and given a suggested arrival time. Plexiglass has been installed at concession stands, and all sales will be cashless. They’ve got everything sorted out down to the finest details, like single-serve condiments. (It’s all laid out in a video on the team’s YouTube channel.)
One thing they failed to account for, though, is that football fans like to get drunk and do stupid things. At some point during Thursday night’s game, a fight erupted in the stands.
All the safety measures in the world don’t matter if fans don’t do their part to keep one another safe. For most people, that means doing simple things like keeping your distance from other people while waiting in line for security or concessions. Browns COO Mike Jenkins told reporters earlier this week that fans bear some responsibility for the success of the stadium’s reopening.
“Our fans also have a responsibility and a role to play, and that is really to adhere to the requirements of the plan,” Jenkins said. “Wear the mask, properly socially distance and do not come if exhibiting symptoms. Frankly, if you are not willing or able to comply with those plan elements, then they should not attend on Thursday night.”
Jenkins didn’t mention a ban on fighting with your neighbors, because you have to be a special kind of stupid to start throwing fists with strangers during a public health emergency.
Opening stadiums to fans while the pandemic continues to rage was already a risky proposition. Ten people who attended last week’s Chiefs game have been told to quarantine after a fan seated near them tested positive. If everyone at the game played by the rules, hopefully the safety measures were enough to prevent transmission.
Look, every sports fan wants to be back in the stands as soon as possible, and it’s going to take people looking out for each other to make that possible. If everyone protected themselves and others like the guy in the video above protected his beer, we’d be back to normal a lot sooner.
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