It’s been a long time coming for the Buccaneers, who are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2003. Tampa fans were feeling frisky in the aftermath of Sunday’s conference championship win over Green Bay, celebrating their triumph with an impromptu dance party outside of Raymond James Stadium, site of Super Bowl LV between the Bucs and defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. This was the scene in Tampa last night.
While their enthusiasm is warranted, many of the fans seen were not wearing masks, which is obviously ill-advised in the age of COVID. Florida has much looser restrictions than other states, many of whom require masks to enter stores and other public places, though the optics here still aren’t great. Selfish displays like this are a major reason why, nearly a year after the US reported its first COVID outbreak, the virus continues to spread like wildfire with no sign of relenting any time soon. Alabama fans celebrated in similarly misguided fashion earlier this month, taking to the streets after the Crimson Tide defeated Ohio State in the College Football National Championship.
Though tight end Rob Gronkowski seemed to appreciate the support shown by Bucs fans Sunday night, many on Twitter questioned their decision to flout masks and social distancing amid a deadly pandemic that has taken 400,000 lives in the United States with over two million fatalities reported worldwide.
While we’re on the subject of mass gatherings, a faction of fans awaited the Bills upon their return to Buffalo early Monday morning, braving frigid temperatures to bid their beloved AFC East champs farewell after one of their most successful seasons. To their credit, most of the fans in attendance appeared to be wearing masks.
It should be easier to contain the virus once vaccines become more widely available, though until that happens, sports will continue to be affected. The NBA has postponed 21 games since its season began last month with only a handful of teams permitting spectators including the Heat, who plan to use COVID-detecting dogs to screen fans prior to entering AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Raymond James Stadium will be open at about one third of its usual capacity for Super Bowl LV next month.