NFL Could Require Fans To Sign COVID-19 Waiver

Tucker D. Franklin

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising in the country and football season coming near, the NFL is considering requiring fans to sign a waiver to attend games according to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan.

While it seems a logistical nightmare, Kaplan said the waiver will “probably something you do electronically,” and explained the league has been assessing situations frequently.

The league has said almost from the beginning of the pandemic that it expects to play its season as normally as possible. Teams are preparing for a range of scenarios, from no fans to nearly full stadiums, and the NFL is leaving those choices to the clubs and local health regulators.

But as new cases of coronavirus have surged 80 percent in the U.S. the last two weeks, it seems all but inevitable that if fans are allowed into stadiums, reports will emerge of some who attended NFL games contracting COVID-19.

This wouldn’t be the first time people would be asked to sign a waiver to go to a large stadium or arena gathering. Earlier in June, attendees at President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa were required to sign a waiver.

One reason for the waivers would be to shield teams and the league from lawsuits if a fan does catch COVID-19 at the game. Questions arose from President’s Trump’s waivers if they were truly legal to shield the event organizers.

According to Kaplan, plaintiff’s attorney Bob Hilliard — who has a history dealing with the MLB and NFL in court — said he can’t see a potential NFL waiver would holding up in court.

“Strange things about waivers…they are fragile — often easily breakable,” he wrote in an email. “Especially, as I assume here, when you are asking fans to waive their rights even if the NFL is negligent, grossly negligent, etc. Comes down to proportionate power — and the NFL has a high hurdle to claim that a fan has an actual choice.

“Let’s say a fan and his family go to a game,” he continued. “The team/NFL allows, by poor processes, that fan and his family to be exposed to Corona and everyone dies. The waiver defense will either be a question of law for the judge, or a question of fact for the jury, depending on the jurisdiction and the particular facts. I’d take the case.”

The waiver is just one of the many things on the list of best practices for re-opening stadiums the league plans to send teams by the middle of next week.

To read Daniel Kaplan’s full story on COVID-19 risk waivers, click here.

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Tucker D. Franklin
Tucker D. Franklin


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