Just a few weeks ago, the president of the NFL union, J.C. Tretter, said that the NFL remains on hold as there's "really no way to tell what's going to happen" regarding the return of football amid the coronavirus crisis (see video above). The situation remains fluid and Tretter says that everyone is just going to do what is recommended and what the best plans of action seem to be.
Just last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has played a huge role in spearheading the American effort in fighting against coronavirus and figuring out a recovery plan, actually showed support of a plan that could help facilitate the return of fall sports, saying that "there's a way of doing that... nobody comes to the stadium -- put [the players] in big hotels, you know, wherever you want to play -- keep them very well surveilled, have them tested like every week."
So, given the fact that the NFL and the union are working alongside health officials and authorities to figure out the best way to go about a return to action, Fauci's advocacy of the idea should bode well for a return to football... right?
It doesn't seem like it will be so easy, says NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. According to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, any return to normalcy would probably require the approval of health experts after seeing "declining infection rates, declining deaths and widespread testing."
Thus, it seems like even if the league were to prepare a plan that would keep fans out of stadiums, isolate the players in hotels and keep tabs on the players on a very consistent basis, the most important step would actually be the gradual improvement of our nation's health conditions.
Smith also said that widespread testing would need to be available, which has to do with more than just the constant surveillance of players, but instead has ties to the entire US population being able to test symptoms. This is simply because, as Smith explained, the NFL wouldn't need these testing kits as urgently as other groups that would really need access to those resources.
"I don’t think that anyone in our larger community should suffer simply because we want football to proceed on time,” Smith said on an episode of the "Debriefing the Briefing" podcast (h/t SBJ, Yahoo! Sports). “At its core, whether it was the beginning of the league year or offseason workouts or the draft, you have to start with a supposition that none of those three things are essential.”
Though diehard football fans may feel as though a normal starting time is "essential" -- and trust me, I know the feeling -- there are so many uses of these testing kits, once available, that would be much more important to the betterment of our nation's health in the wake of this pandemic.
It's not impossible for football to return in the fall. But it definitely seems as though it should take a backseat to some of the other issues at hand during this unprecedented era.