The National Football League has announced its 2020 schedule and is already touting some matchups as “must-see” contests between Super Bowl contenders.
But the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is cautioning sports-hungry fans not to be overly eager.
"The virus will make the decision for us," Fauci told NBC-TV sports. "I think it's feasible that negative testing players could play to an empty stadium.”
Fauci said the coronavirus is unpredictable, and there is no guarantee the NFL or any sports league will be able to resume normal play.
“Even if the virus goes down dramatically in June, July and August, as the virus starts returning in the fall, it would be in my mind, shame on us if we don’t have in place all of the mechanisms to prevent it from blowing up again,” Fauci said, adding that players and fans will “have to play it by ear” whether there will be a full NFL season this year.
“If you really want to be absolutely certain, you’d test all the players before the game. ... To be 100% sure, you’ve got to test every day. But that’s not practical, and that’s never going to happen.”
All major U.S. sports leagues that play in the spring — basketball, hockey, soccer and baseball — have suspended their games, frustrating fans, players and especially those who work in and around stadiums.
The Associated Press reports that Major League Baseball owners have approved a plan for a shortened season that would start the first week in July.
The games would be played without fans, but the league hopes that restriction would be gradually lifted depending on cities and counties.
The season would be 81 games instead of the usual 162. The annual All-Star Game would be canceled, but the playoffs would be extended.
The MLB Players Association would have to approve the plan if it were to take effect.