With the start of the NFL 2020 season just two weeks away, football teams have been sharing how they plan to reintroduce themselves into the lives of fans across the country despite the continued presence of COVID-19.
Though many teams — such as the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders — have banned live attendance for stadium viewing, the Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions, plan to kick off their season with fans present for at least their first three home games, reopening Arrowhead Stadium at a limited capacity.
At approximately 22% of its normal capacity (roughly 17,000 people), the Chiefs have promised to enforce strict regulations to ensure safety for fans. Socially-distanced viewers cannot exceed numbers of six within their watch pods, a group specified by fans when purchasing tickets which allow them to sit next to the others in their group, and masks are required at all times when fans are not eating or drinking in the stadium.
With blessings from the Kansas City Health Director Dr. Rex Archer and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Dr. Erica Carney, Chiefs Kingdom anticipates returning to their place of worship come Sept. 10. Tailgating will be allowed for ticket holders to partake in with others in their pod, with masks always “encouraged.”
Despite their claimed commitment to keeping fans safe, the Chiefs seem to have forgotten that the 17,000 fans in their stadium on Sundays will return to their daily lives eventually, which could affect many others in the Kansas City community.
Upon USF’s decision to move the fall 2020 semester online due to the risks COVID-19 presents, I found myself living back at my home just outside of Kansas City. Though my family has no interest in the Chiefs or the NFL, we, along with the other two million people who live in the Kansas City metro area, will be paying the price for the nearly 17,000 who feel that watching their hometown team play in person is important enough to warrant risking the health of others.
The Chiefs have taken full advantage of their fans’ dedication to their team, feeding into their followers’ love for Chiefs Kingdom in order to earn what revenue they can this season.
Under the pretense of being “essential,” the greed-filled need for money seeps through the cracks of this facade, and I can’t help but feel that the Chiefs’ decision is reflective of corporate America’s rush to get back to normal before we are ready.
The aftermath of allowing fans in the stands will bear consequences for the Kansas City community and state as a whole; a state where, as of Aug. 21, all 105 counties have been infected with the virus.
As Chiefs fans excitedly await their return to attend the main event, those outside have no choice but to deal with the after party.