Opinion: It’s time for the Super Bowl to be virtual

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By Andrew Franceski, Staff Reporter

The crunch of players hitting each other interrupted by expensive but cheesy commercials it’s the biggest day in American Sports, The Super Bowl. This year, it is time to change the way we celebrate Super Bowl week.

            This year, the Super Bowl is being held at Raymond James stadium in Tampa Fla. and the NFL has recently announced that fans will be allowed to attend at a limited capacity. This is disastrous for a few reasons, but foremost is the health of the workers and those attending. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he will allow 5,000 fans to be present and require a full staff to be working, bringing the stadium total to around 8,000 people.

A gathering of this size goes against the CDC’s recommendations and creates extreme risk for a super spreader event, especially with concession stands operating during the game. DeSantis has thankfully mandated masks, except for while eating and drinking, but anyone who has been to a professional sports game knows food and drink are an integral part of the experience and something that will put many at risk while others eat around them.

The allowance of fans also sends a dangerous message to the viewers. According to a study done by Pew Research, 25% of Americans believe COVID-19 is either a hoax or wildly blown out of proportion. Advertising fans in a stadium at the single most watched televised event in America sends a message: the NFL does not believe in the restrictions we are under for our own safety.

The argument has been made that the Super Bowl won’t feel the same without fans, but this holds no water. Millions of Americans watch from home each year while only 50,000 are able to attend the game. What we all miss is going to parties, and seeing people, but that is not an excuse to endanger people’s lives to make one day feel more “normal”. Americans will still watch the game, still laugh at the bad commercials, and still take Monday off like every other year, the only difference is we wouldn’t see fans at the stadium cheering with them.

The NFL also has another weapon in their arsenal of entertainment: cartoons. During Wild Card Weekend, the NFL aired one game on Nickelodeon, with fake slime, cartoons, and Young Sheldon. This was the most watched game of this season, and incorporation of similar ideas could add an exciting new dimension, and demographic to the biggest game of the year.

The NFL also needs to disallow the winning team to have a parade. Up to this point, the NFL has said it will leave the decision to have a parade to the winning city. Five potential playoff teams have already said they would hold parades, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins have said they would like to have a normal parade if possible.

The championship parade would be a super spreader on a scale we have not seen to date and would endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. NFL parades typically have throngs of fans in attendance squeezed tightly together for hours on end, the perfect conditions for a massive outbreak of COVID-19. The NFL’s unwillingness to stop its teams from participating is going to put many people at significant risk.

The year has been terrible, and sports have been one of the few bright spots, but it is time for the NFL to step in and make the Super Bowl and related activities virtual to protect all of us. We are close to the end; it isn’t worth it. NFL: do your job.