As you’re certainly aware, there have been large-scale protests across America for the past week-plus after George Floyd died at the hands of the Minneapolis police. These protests come after the country had been largely shut down for more than two months in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has killed over 100,000 people in our country during that time.
There’s no real graceful way to pivot to SPORTS from that introduction, but we are witnessing an experiment in real-time to see whether and to what extent young, healthy people can congregate in large crowds. This isn’t exactly a profound statement, but: in the next few weeks, there will be a gigantic spike in new coronavirus cases or there will not be. The results of this unintentional experiment are going to play a large role in how many fans we see in baseball and football stadiums in the coming months.
We have already started to see the trickling back of fans. NASCAR and the state of Florida are working out a deal for there to be some fans this month. Texas is going to begin allowing venues to host fans at 25 percent capacity. Ohio State’s athletic director has imagined half-full stadiums this Fall. Don’t believe any survey that tells you fans will not return to games when they’re allowed to — stadiums for premier events will be filled to the capacity they’re allowed.
The footage of the protests has been so vivid that people are barely even talking about coronavirus anymore — nothing related to the coronavirus cracked the top 20 search terms on Google Trends on Tuesday or Wednesday. Monday, Michigan’s stay-at-home order barely cracked it, ranking no. 20.
If we get to July and there haven’t been dire coronavirus consequences from all of these gatherings, there will be loud calls not just for fans at baseball and football games, but perhaps even full stadiums.