The games will resume eventually. When? Nobody knows that for sure. Maybe a month. Maybe much longer. It’s still just guesswork.
Sports executives are busy sorting through different scenarios that would allow their games to start again. They’re trying to piece together timelines and details without an expiration date on this pandemic.
When the sports world does return to action, how will you respond?
I wanted to hear answers from season-ticket holders of various Twin Cities teams. In e-mailed discussions with more than a dozen people, I asked each fan two questions: What will it take for you to go back to the stadium, arena or ballpark? And why?
Their answers, not surprisingly, covered the spectrum. Here are nine responses that show just that, and some thoughts from me on returning to sports.
Tim Charbonneau: “I went to the majority of the [Vikings] games with my young children or wife last year. Wouldn’t be worth it in the current environment and based upon what is known today. I would hope for some combination of vaccine and/or readily available antibody test that can confirm if you’ve already had the virus along with further scientific testing to confirm you cannot contract multiple times.”
Tim had plenty of company with this thinking. More testing was the most common response.
Ready to return
David Reeves: “As soon as play resumes and the stadium is open to fans, I am comfortable going back to TCF Bank Stadium and rooting for the Gophers. I’m trusting that university administration will be making decisions based upon sound advice from public health experts.”
Multiple fans said they trust health experts and will return without trepidation when given clearance.
Don’t want to spread
Mary Wadlow: “Easy access with quick results to COVID-19 testing for infection and antibodies so people can know their status or we have a vaccine. As much as I love going to baseball games, I don’t want to put anyone at risk by potentially spreading a virus while asymptomatic. It’s selfish to put my entertainment over the life of others. Test the players and play on TV without fans, but there’s no reason to gather 30,000 people in one place until we know who’s safe and who’s not. Any plan that includes testing the players should only happen if it won’t impact testing availability to those who need it most.”
Sports without fans has generated considerable national discussion.
Brian Nelson: “Before I return to a sporting event, I would like to know that a therapeutic has been discovered to treat COVID-19. I would prefer to know they are taking everyone’s temperature when they go through the gate/security. Logistically it might be impossible to take everyone’s temperature, but it seems like they have time during the security check.”
I agree that logistics of taking temperatures would be difficult, but it’s an interesting idea.
Tim Purington: “I’m not the type of person that is worried so much about this pandemic even though I’m going to be 50 this year. I would have no reservations at all going back. I do believe we’re doing the right thing right now. But as soon as they allow fans back in the stadiums, I will be first in line.”
I suspect many fans agree, especially as it pertains to football season, which is several months away.
Green lights, eye tests
Matt Retterath: “I would not feel comfortable returning to the stadium until: 1) We live in a world where testing is widely available, both for COVID-19 infections and level of antibodies. 2) The scientific and health care community of experts feel it is safe to return to close proximity interactions based on that wide availability of testing.
If those conditions were met, I would feel comfortable to go back to the stadium, as well as, considerations based on the eye test of how the progression of pandemic plays out over the spring and summer.”
The situation is so fluid that his assessment about watching the progression over the next month or so will greatly impact this conversation.
Need distancing, protection
Mike Pokrandt: “For me to go back to the Pav [Maturi Pavilion for Gophers volleyball], I’ll need to see a combination of active screening, masks and social distancing. I’ll be a lot more likely to attend events once there is a vaccine or drug that is proven to treat this virus.”
I also wonder if fans wearing masks will become a regular part of stadium experience.
Ross Levin: “My initial reaction is that I would first want to know that I have immunity from the virus. If I was immune, I would be less concerned about getting the virus from others. I would also need some rolling relaxation of the shelter-in-place orders simply because more interactions would have been socialized. Going from zero to thousands seems like a psychological leap. Once a vaccine is available, that would change things, but so might simply getting a little more accustomed to the treatment and risks of the virus.”
Good point about more social interaction before returning to stadiums because flipping on a light switch seems impractical right now.
‘Higher risk,’ highly concerned
Scott Roberts: “I’m so torn but personally the only way I could justify going back to the stadium at this moment is either a therapeutic drug that makes symptoms manageable or a formal vaccine and that’s not likely in the near term. I’m a diabetic so I’m already at a higher risk. With crowds that size and even with robust testing it’d be on my mind because physical items occasionally get by security and we can’t see this virus. I love watching the Vikings and the game day experience they provide, but there are definitely concerns about how realistic being in the stands as I’ve experienced in previous seasons would be at this point.”
He also travels from out of state by plane to attend Vikings games, which adds more complications and fears.
We likely will need more available testing before experts determine it is safe to pack sports venues again. In the interim, play games without fans for a while, if those leagues’ medical experts can determine safe options and have access to enough testing. Sure, it would be weird, but these are strange times. I’m antsy for sports to resume, but I worry about a second wave if we rush back.
What do you think? Let me know at email@example.com.