Talk has shifted from sports leagues playing damage control and shutting down, to when games will eventually resume.
For the NFL, they have the benefit of having a bit more breathing room, given that Week 1 is slated to kick off until September. However, when looking at all the factors involved — physical contact, training regimens, travel, gameday operations — it’s probably the most difficult one to pull off amid the coronavirus epidemic.
In fact, infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci believes it’s the “perfect setup” for spreading the virus, which he stated on NBC’s Football Morning in America.
“Sweat does not do it,” Fauci said, as transcribed by Pro Football Talk. “This is a respiratory virus, so it’s going to be spread by shedding virus. The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasal pharynx, and it sheds and I wipe my hand against my nose—now it’s on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it’s on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours. Sweat as such won’t transmit it. But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect set up for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field—a middle linebacker, a tackle, whoever it is it—as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person.
“If you really want to be in a situation where you want to be absolutely certain, you’d test all the players before the game. And you say, Those who are infected: Sorry, you’re sidelined. Those who are free: Get in there and play.”
A difficult obstacle the NFL will need to tackle in the future.