NFL’s COVID Liability Wavier Could Be The Future of Attending Sports Events
The National Football League seems hellbent on having fans in their stadiums this season. Per an article from David Kaplan of The Athletic, he outlined multiple scenarios that the NFL could be looking at for this season. They include wearing masks heading into the stadium, a potential biological passport, hand sanitizer, going cashless, and maybe the biggest one, a liability waiver. This is weirdly an idea I had when COVID first became a thing in March, but after talking with some legal friends, it didn’t seem possible. Not surprising, the NFL is smarter than me and believes this could be a way in. If so, this might be the wave of the future.
From my perspective, this is a smart move by the NFL. Again, they’re showing themselves as the leaders in sports when it comes to COVID. Some may call this greedy, and that’s your choice. I call it innovative and trying new things in order to have some semblance of fans before a vaccine arrives in the United States. A liability waiver could be challenged, but the NFL has a sharp legal team. If they can ensure it is hard to break, the waiver will become a thing.
Will this deter people from going to games? Yes and no. The people who will puff their chests on the internet with op-eds and tweets about it are people that were already not going to attend a sporting event in the first place. Those people do not truly matter for this conversation. Even with the surging COVID rates across the country, Lambeau Field would be packed if the Packers were playing on the Fourth of July. That’s just a fact. Same goes for NFL teams all over the country. Would some teams see a decline in attendance due to this waiver? Absolutely. This is not a turnkey solution for all teams, but it increases the chances of teams like Packers, Cowboys, Steelers and others having fans attending games.
Once a vaccine is readily available in the United States, NFL and other sports organizations will be free to have fans at capacity. It has always been my belief that once a vaccine is there, teams will make it on fans to get vaccinated before attending a sporting event. And if someone gets COVID, that becomes on them versus on the sports team. The waiver is a short-term solution in waiting for the vaccine which might not be here until the NFL Playoffs.
Sports continue to adapt to this ‘new normal’ in society.