NFL Kickoff and how it works, for now


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The 2020 NFL season is just two weeks old, and there has already been controversy surrounding the Kickoff and the impact of COVID-19.

The 2020 NFL season began on Sept. 10 as reigning champions Kansas City Chiefs took on the Houston Texans. The Texans stayed in their locker room for the national anthem, then proceeded to the field immediately after. The minimal fans in the stands (due to COVID-19) proceeded to boo the Texans as they came out, and continued their booing as the two teams joined arms midfield in a moment of silence and unity to stand against racial injustice. Essentially, by booing, the Chiefs fans disrupted the silence, which was intended to be a way for the athletes to use their platforms to bring awareness to the country’s ongoing serious social inequalities.

That is not where the social justice messages end, either. The players are now allowed to have names of victims of systemic racism on their helmets. On one hand, this is an opportunity to spread awareness of what is happening in the United States. On the other hand, the names of these victims are written in tiny print on the bottom of the back end of the helmets. If the goal is to get attention, perhaps the league should look at allowing for  the names to be located on the jersey, both in a more prominent position and in a larger font, such as is being done with the NBA. 

With stadiums having a limited capacity, fans must be socially distanced from one another and are not allowed to get close to players. Therefore, one could assume that only those who are near the players would be able to see the names written in fine print on the bottom of the helmet. When watching on television, the cameras rarely focus on players in an angle which restricts the view of players’ names. 

COVID-19 restrictions are an essential part of making this season happen. What makes this a little more of a dilemma is the fact that every state has different rules set in place, so every team has to make decisions accordingly. Many teams are completely withholding fan access into the games. Those that are allowing for fan attendance have capacity regulations, mask mandates, social distancing and limited paper transactions.

When it comes to the teams and players, there are heavier restrictions. The opposing teams must stay at least six feet away from each other when indoors. The clubs must rearrange their buildings, furniture, signs and markers to discourage handshakes and establish one-way people traffic. During workouts, the players must not gather to practice with more than 15 athletes.

Throughout this last week we have seen very few positive cases in the NFL. There were seven when the last round was done, two of which are players. As unlikely as it could seem, the NFL is starting off the season strong in this respect. 

The recognition for this season must go to stadium and maintenance employees, as well as the athletes and coaches. Every week they are putting themselves at risk by going to work, practicing and safeguarding the environment. Whenever they leave their homes and step onto the stadium or field they carry with them an unprecedented level of risk.

Football is more dangerous now than ever before. What is the league administration going to do to continue social justice awareness? How are they going to continue keeping every employee safe and compensated? They’re off to a good start, but when more and more people are allowed access to the games, the risk might escalate.