The NFL has responded to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s skepticism over the ability to play football this fall in the face of a persistent COVID-19 pandemic.
“Game on” is the gist of the NFL’s response.
Count Sean McVay among those wondering how exactly this going to work. The Los Angeles Rams head coach appeared alongside Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn a Zoom news conference on Thursday to discuss their joint appearance on HBO’s “Hark Knocks.”
He’s perplexed at how football is supposed to look amid social-distancing guidelines.
‘Is this crazy?’
“Is this crazy, coach Lynn?” McVay said. “We’re talking about some of this stuff and we’re playing football. I mean we’re going to social distance but we play football? Hey, this is really hard for me to understand all this. I don’t want to be. ... I don’t get it. I really don’t.”
There isn’t a simple answer. Tackle football is the antithesis of social distancing.
Dr. Fauci’s warning
Fauci, the nation’s leading epidemiologist as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sees a potential second wave of America’s COVID-19 outbreak as a threat to the fall football slate.
“If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,” Fauci told CNN on Thursday.
Since states and municipalities have loosened shelter-in-place restrictions, states across the South and West have seen record numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases as the count continues to rise in more than 20 states. As of Thursday, the United States claimed 2.1 million of the world’s 8.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 118,00 of the world’s 450,000 confirmed deaths, per John Hopkins.
NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills pledged diligence in the face of Fauci’s warning while vowing that the season will go on.
“Make no mistake, this is no easy task,” Sills said. “We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees.”
But no protocols are going to change the nature of football, a sport predicated on men contacting and colliding with each other.
As long as the sport goes on amid the pandemic, the solution appears to be simply to add the coronavirus to the list of inherent dangers associated with playing the game.
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