Opinions

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Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum

Positive tests are problematic for the league, plus, it really messes with my fantasy football statistics

The return of sports during COVID-19 has been difficult for sports leagues of all levels. While the ‘bubble system’ worked successfully for the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs, the National Football League (NFL) has chosen to return to action and play their entire regular season differently than other professional leagues. 

Unfortunately, they have done so in a way that, as a fan, completely stresses me out. 

Of course, the NFL did put together what seems to be a well-thought out and detailed return to play protocol to keep players, team staff, and families safe.

There are daily COVID-19 tests for players and personnel who may be in close proximity to each other. As reported by Sporting News, anyone who tests positive is required to isolate and are no longer allowed to access team facilities or be in contact with other players or personnel. 

Additionally, players are subject to fines if they are found to have engaged in ‘reckless’ behaviour away from the team facility. These high-risk activities include attending an indoor bar with more than 10 people without wearing a mask and attending any gathering or event that violates local and state restrictions. 

Masks are required to be worn by all staff members on the sidelines during games – as they should be. On-field officials must wear masks and gloves during games. As for players, they are recommended but not required to have masks on during games. 

All of these rules make sense and are reasonable. In their protocol, the NFL claimed that they would be strictly enforcing compliance of these rules. But, it seems the NFL is more interested in money than player safety. 

The lack of effort in regards to health and safety is clear to see when tuning into games and seeing coaches with their masks pulled down, or trying to set up your fantasy lineup and seeing that a player isn’t playing because they literally tested positive for COVID-19 – I’m talking about you, Cam Newton. 

There have already been plenty of positive tests throughout the league amongst staff and players. But this isn’t surprising because we are literally in a pandemic, and there are thousands of personnel involved between the 32 teams that make up the league. 

A handful of games have already been rescheduled because of players testing positive for COVID-19, notably the Tennessee Titans who also had an outbreak within the team. Though, asymptomatic players are allowed to hit the field only “ten days after the initial positive,” or if “five days have passed since the initial positive and the player receives two consecutive negative PCR virus tests at least 24 hours apart within that five-day period.” 

That doesn’t seem like long enough considering people are expected to self-isolate for 14 days if they feel COVID-19 symptoms. 

It really makes me wonder whether or not the NFL genuinely cares about health and safety within their league, or if they really only think of this as business. 

There seems to be numerous problems in the way the NFL is handling COVID-19 within the league, and it makes me question whether or not having a season like this is worth it at all.