Picture: Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports
The NFL, National Football League, started its season today, defying doubts that the season would begin on time. Starting in the afternoon, the Kansas Chiefs are playing at their own stadium against the Houston Texans.
The crowds will be many times smaller than normal, with everyone distanced and wearing masks, but at least everyone will be able to watch the football game live. Everything about the game stays the same, the same arenas and the same rules, but the health precautions and distancing will feel completely different for football fans.
No one knows for sure what will happen this year, whether teams will be able to make it past coronavirus outbreaks or player protests, and what games will look like later this season. For now, the Super Bowl is scheduled for February 7, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Players and coaches will be tested for coronavirus every day except for on game day. The day before game day is the last time they would be tested before the game.
In the last few weeks, 44,000 tests were given, only eight of which were positive, and only one of which was an actual player. It is expected that the number of positive cases will go up as the season continues, as teams will be forced to come in contact with each other and travel around the country. Should anyone associated with the NFL, a player or a staff member, test positive for the coronavirus, they will have to be quarantined until they fully recover. During games, coaches and people on the sidelines of the game will be required to wear masks, and substituting players will be encouraged, although not mandatory.
Another concern has been how the NFL will handle players protesting racial injustice, as many of the players are black. In the past, the NFL has had players protesting or speaking out against racial inequality, like kneeling during the national anthem, which President Trump has openly criticized. But the NFL Commissioner has said he would support players in their protests, stating “I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League.”
Players have even decided to wear stickers on their helmets stating names of black people killed by police, a change the NFL is permitting to uniforms. During warm ups, players have also been wearing shirts promoting racial equality designed by Texan safety Michael Thomas. In this time of uncertainty, Americans are eager to resume one of its favorite national pastimes.