Return of the NFL: Too Soon?

Football fans everywhere were glued to their couches and TV screens September 10 as the NFL season returned with a series of games for week 1. In an effort to put the safety and health of the players first, the 2020 preseason was canceled, and teams went straight into their regular season. However, according to Forbes, “An alarming number of star players limped off the field Sunday during Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season, and many of those injuries were confirmed to be serious.” Was the lack of a preseason and the rush to start games back premature? 

The Forbes article goes on to list a number of NFL players who were injured after only two weeks back on the field. Notable players like Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers and Saquon Barkley from the New York Giants are among those players to name a few.  ESPN stats as of September 23 listed 12 players who were out or on injured reserve, with a number of other questionables. 

Among the injuries, there is also the question of how the league will handle the spread of covid-19. Unlike the NBA, the NFL is not playing in a bubble and football is inevitably a sport with a tremendous amount of contact. “The NFL administered 80, 017 COVID-19 tests to players between Aug. 12 through Saturday, and there have been seven confirmed tests,” according to the NFL site as of September 16. Although these numbers are low now, with the sport it is only a matter of time before more cases begin to sprout.

The season coming back during the pandemic is not the only risk. As of right now, four NFL teams are allowing fans and more plan to do it within the next few months. Some organizations are watching others and how they execute it, while some team executives have come forward to say they're not going to allow fans all season. With the NFL being a billion dollar industry, there was more pressure for the season to start and eventually for fans to come watch. As usual, teams want to make as much revenue as possible, but some states still have laws and regulations about social gatherings. It is not just the teams’ revenues that are taken into account. Certain networks that air the games each Sunday, Monday, and Thursday rely on the ratings to be successful. Casinos and mobile applications such as FanDuel rely on its bets on sports to make the most profit.   

Whether or not it was too soon, the season is underway and whatever results from it will be revealed in the coming weeks. The NFL season plans to run through January 3, 2021.