The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new world. There are a lot of horrible consequences with deaths, fears of economic collapse, educational turbulence, and social unrest. For the sake of our site I want to focus on a more socioeconomic impact that the novel virus will have on sports venues.
Every August-September toes hit the leather and tens of thousands of rabid fans pin their emotions on a group of 11 college kids playing a game. My wife would say that the notion of allowing a game to dictate your emotions is asinine. For me, and a lot of you reading this article, it’s a great way to separate myself from the daily routine of life. On a Wednesday in March the country saw the cancellation of conference basketball tournaments and the eventual cancellation of the NCAA tournament along with other post-season tournaments. The loss of March Madness was devastating to the local economies that were hosting these events. Another big impact that a lot of folks aren’t talking about is the mental health impact on those who use sports as a therapeutic tool. This would include players along with the fans. According to statista.com 78% of males consider themselves a fan, whether that is labeled as an avid fan or casual fan. In contrast, 43% of females considered themselves “not a fan at all”. Also, the rate of depression among men in our country has been on the rise since 2000 according to Mental Health America. Put all of this together and the impact that the loss of sports have on this country could be even more devastating than just economic impact.
That economic impact will be the focus of University’s President and Athletic Directors across the country this summer and the decisions they make will determine how Covid-19 will ultimately impact their programs. As far as money goes, football is king. The upcoming football season will be pivotal to control the transition from “quarantine” to “new normal”. There is a chance that this season starts with fans but most people in the sport seem to think that waiting until fans can be in the stands is the best way to go. I would agree that for the future of in-person athletics this could be the best move. If there is a gap this year in fans in the stands, I could see fans becoming more comfortable watching the games at home and starting their own traditions with their friends and families. With declining attendance already and a whole year of no fans could be disastrous for stadiums across the nation.
I am ready to get back to Kroger Field, as long as I am not endangering my loved ones and those high risk individuals. Thinking of things that we could see when we all return, I expect to see hand sanitizer everywhere. UK mask are already taking over social media post and ads. I’m sure officially branded mask will be there waiting for someone to drop $20 on them. The big hurdle would be how close the fans sit next to each other. Could we see a widening of the bleacher style seats to allow for more social distancing? I would personally love to see it as I have aisle seats and during the rare times I am seated, I have an edge that only covers one cheek most of the time. Could we see some sort of testing as fans enter the stadium? Prescreening and taking temperatures could possibly be a part of the new normal when it comes to sporting events. In any event, I look forward to the start of sports and the end of this pandemic. We all need to stay diligent until this is all over to ensure the quickest culmination and the prompt beginning of our preferred way of life. Stay safe all!