Saints & Pelicans fans voice concerns on NFL & NBA Seasons

Dr.C

Although surging COVID-19 cases continue in the United States, professional sports mammoths, the NFL and NBA, are set to return to action within a few weeks. As the sports entities' restart (NBA) and start (NFL) approaches, it casts a shadow of the uncertainty of coaches, players, and fans. 

The NFL is planning for fans to attend games during the pandemic, but fans are beginning to voice concerns about safety. Also, based upon the NFLPA, the board voted to suspend the NFL preseason and devote more time to protect the players before the regular season.

COVID-19 WAIVERS

The NFL is planning to waive its responsibility for fans' health and safety from COVID-19 if they desire to attend football games this season. As a result, a requirement for fans to sign liability waivers to protect the league from lawsuits based on contracting COVID-19 is under consideration. All 32 NFL Teams should have a copy of the proposed waiver by next week.

The question of safety has been at the forefront of sports since the pandemic began.  With so many unresolved issues still looming in the NFL, the league continues to move forward in starting the 2020 season. Some Saints fans would rather see the league show more concern for safety than setting perimeters to protect themselves. The league has already made changes affecting the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans’ two preseason games will be on August 23rd at Pittsburgh, and August 29th at The Mercedes Benz Superdome against Houston.  Both games kickoff at 7:00 PM CST. With the current plan, the team will lose its preseason road game against the Los Angeles Rams, and a home game against the Miami Dolphins. 

PLAYERS ON PLAYING

Players are making individual decisions not to take part because of family concerns or personal health concerns. Players are not alone; some lifelong fans are willing to risk their health while others are opting to stay home this season.   Saints S Malcolm Jenkins already discussed his apprehension of returning to play a few weeks ago.  Jenkins expressed more of a concern for his family's well-being if he contracted the virus during the season from another person.

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson
Mar 6, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans fans hold a large image of the face of Pelicans forward Zion Williamson in the second quarter against the Miami Heat at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans SG, JJ Redick, never wavered about playing in Orlando, Florida, but the timing causes concern. The Pelicans guard said he has no comfort level amid social unrest in the country and playing in the center of a coronavirus hot spot in Florida. Redick will play if the league returned. But, his declaration did not mean he was comfortable with it.  

We started seeing that momentum that we were gonna maybe play," Redick said on a video call, retracing the past several weeks. "... And then, all of a sudden, George Floyd gets murdered, Breonna Taylor's murdered, the tape of Ahmaud Arbery comes out." JJ Redick

"So, to say that we have any sort of comfort level would be a lie. There is no comfort level," Redick said. "We're not with our families. We're not at our homes. We're [going to be] isolated in a bubble in the middle of a hot spot in the middle of Florida -- while there's social unrest going on in the country, and we're three months away from potentially the most important election in our lifetimes.

Redick is a part of New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson's Social Justice Leadership Coalition and is working on creating systemic change in the NBA on and off the basketball court.

SAINTS AND PELICANS FANS HAVE MIXED FEELINGS

Saints Season Tickets
Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; A fan holds tickets outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before an NFC Wild Card playoff football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

“Being a genuine Saints fan who now lives in Atlanta, I still travel to New Orleans for homes game. I am concerned about the health and safety of the players and fans inside the Superdome. We should wait until COVID 19 subsides and there is a cure for the virus.” Ennis, Atlanta, Ga.

“I hope to live the best quality of life possible, and not die, or yield to ill health, to experience moments of satisfying my desire to attend my favorite sporting event. I must admit that I am an avid sports fan! Most importantly, I am and have always been a dedicated, committed, and loyal fan of the New Orleans Saints. This has been since spending my lunch money and allowance for the week to purchase my ticket to the very first game played at Tulane University. I’d love nothing more than to return to my assigned seat in the stands of the Superdome and spend some social time praying, chanting, encouraging, and arm chair coaching my well-loved, talented, and well respected New Orleans Saints, on to a victory. I am classified as a senior with an underlying health condition of hypertension.” Aldonia, New Orleans, La.

The NFL and the New Orleans Saints will travel from place to place for the season. The NBA and the New Orleans Pelicans will be in a quarantined bubble in Orlando, Florida. The NBA plans to play all their games in one venue and keep players isolated. However, 7% (25 or 351) of the NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19. The New Orleans Pelicans GM David Geffen confirmed 3 of their players have tested positive of the novel coronavirus. The NBA spent months laying out their plan to return, and precautions were in place to restrict and monitor the players' movements. Teams have shipped their practice court floors to the temporary facility, and they are now being installed in a giant ballroom(s) at Disney World.  The NBA is scheduled to resume its 2019-2020 season on July 30th.  

WHAT ARE THE POSITIVES FOR THE NFL?

The NFL has the most resources and more extended schedule, but time to devise a plan to handle COVID-19 is running out. The league will observe the outcome of other sports’ seasoning openers and may be able to revise their initial plans to handle unforeseen problems other sports leagues will face.

Saints Fans
Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Fans react outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before a NFC Wild Card playoff football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

NFL OPTIONS TO HANDLING DECREASING COVID-19 CASES

  1. Quarantine all players during training camp.  Also, consider player isolation throughout the season.
  2. Cut preseason down to two games.
  3. Forego the entire preseason and only have a regular season. 
  4. Decrease the regular season game schedule. 
  5. Decreased or no interaction with media and fans.  These protocols were announced this week by the NFL.
  6. Super Bowl LV is scheduled on February 7, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. There is enough room on the NFL calendar to push the Super Bowl back into March 2021.

“There is no feeling like the energy and vibe inside the Superdome on game day. It is my favorite way to experience Saints football. However, I realize that the health and safety of the fans, players, and workers is the priority. Therefore, I feel like the NFL should not resume the regular season until COVID is under control. Control to me means a permanent decrease in the infection rates and a vaccine that has been administered and monitored for at least six months.” Season Ticket Holder, Lynn, Smyrna, Ga.

The New Orleans Saints will kickoff their season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, September 13th, at home in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

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Comments (10)
No. 1-6
JMcGuan
JMcGuan

I think the NBA has a great plan in place to keep its players safe. As for the NFL, they are pushing for a normal season. Im confident that the NFL will propose a plan that will keep their players and fans safe by the time season comes around.

Dr.C
Dr.C

Editor

Unfortunately @SamL holding out hope that this will just go away has us where we are now, but I believe you're right about the NFL. I like the NBA's plan, but I'm wondering if COVID will outsmart the league. I'm most concerned about the NFL because there's still no safe plan for fans.
Theree are still so many unknowns, so I'm eagerly waiting. I just hope all leagues are able to finish. I'm ready for live sports!

SamL
SamL

I think that, no matter what happens, there isn’t a perfect solution. The nba seems to have the best plan but it seems like the nfl is holding out hope things will clear up.

Christian_L
Christian_L

As appealing as it is to still have a season, their safety should come first. Many of these players and staff members risk their health for our entertainment. Fan's presence can increase risk of COVID so keeping interaction to a minimum is critical to a season even taking place.

Cam Wade
Cam Wade

Even though I can’t wait for the seasons to start, I really hope they prioritize players' and staff’s health. It probably is too dangerous to have fans for all of 2020.

Bob Rose
Bob Rose

Editor

Carla, as it stands right now, what do you feel is the best course of action for the NFL to take?


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