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NFL

Get Rid Of The Fucking Fans

notre dame fans
Photo: Matt Cashore-Pool/Getty Images

Yesterday, over 139,000 Americans tested positive for COVID-19, a new record that will almost certainly be crushed by today’s caseload, which will then be bested by tomorrow’s, which will then be bested by the day after that, and the day after that, and on and on. There’s a vaccine on the horizon, along with a new President who seems to actively give a fuck about people’s health. But both of those life rafts remain months away. For now, the coronavirus is smashing records like it’s about to assume the No. 1 spot on the all-time box office chart.

Join me in recalling a moment right before The Before became The Before, won’t you? It was on March 11 this year, when the NBA suspended its season indefinitely and every other major sport followed suit by going into dry dock. Do you know how many new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in America that day? 245. That’s it. Multiply that number by a THOUSAND and you arrive at the number of Americans who have died outright from the disease over the course of this year. The pandemic is the worst it’s ever been and is getting exponentially worse every day. Meanwhile, this happened:

And this:

And this:

We remain utterly bereft of leadership and direction when it comes to virus prevention, from the White House all the way down to State Houses throughout the country. That means it falls, as it always does, to you and me to make sure no one else dies. That’s a tricky position to be in when nearly half the country has NO interest in prevention efforts of any kind, but the past four years have been nothing but a series of awful choices.

So here’s one good choice to make: stop letting fans into games. Just because we have a leadership vacuum in government doesn’t mean every OTHER leader has to abdicate responsibility. That goes for CEOs, pro sports owners, college presidents, athletic directors, and commissioners. It’s clear that sports leagues shouldn’t even be running games right now, but it’s equally clear that nobody in charge is going to shut things down again. The owners got the TV blood money spigot turned back on, and there’s no turning it off now. That should be enough, but no amount of money ever is for them. Hence, I have to watch many, many NFL and college teams host a potential superspreader event every fucking weekend. And people go! Half of this country is not only uninterested in virus prevention, they HATE it.

And motherfucking Jerry Jones is letting them do it. 30,000 fans. In a stadium that BARELY counts as an outdoor venue when its little sunroof is open. What a total piece of shit.

This is fucking insane. Obviously, we know a lot more about virus prevention than we did back in March, so much so that the NBA resumed its season in July and ran it back-to-front without anyone getting infected. This was because they played every game in a bubble. With no fans in attendance. But now the NBA wants to boot up again around Christmas and it wants fans back in arenas, too. As with the NFL, the NBA is aiming to have a polite fraction of fans at arenas this winter, to maintain the optics of responsibility. But there’s no responsibility in this. The vaccine still hasn’t arrived. For average people, getting tested remains a horrifying odyssey through the American healthcare bureaucracy. Even knowing what we know now about masks and other preventative measures, it’s no less dangerous to be out and about than it was back when we were on lockdown, especially if you go to a goddamn stadium or arena.

It was clear from the second televised sports returned to this country that no one in charge of them would ever be willing to go back. But I’m gonna throw my penny into the fountain anyway and state the obvious. The fans have to go. There are too many of them at stadiums right now to keep them from storming the field and taking off their masks and picking each other’s noses. Like the virus itself, the spread of these fans is now firmly in the UNCONTROLLABLE phase. They’re not gonna magically become more controlled if you keep letting them in. You can shit on the Patriots for a lot of things—God knows I have—but you can never accuse them of being stupid. To that end, they announced on Monday that they aren’t gonna let any fans into their stadium for the rest of the season:

That’s what every team, at every level, needs to be doing right now. Get rid of all the fans, RIGHT NOW. All sorts of horses are well clear of the barn, but this is one that can be put back easily.