Pandemic Measures May Cause Permanent Changes in Sports


Image by Chris Pastrick from Pixabay

Safety measures during the pandemic led to unwanted downtime among sports players, causing them to lose valuable progress.

Over the last year, one of the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has been sports. 

Due to the pandemic, many athletes were blocked from playing their sport. Not just for the professional athletes, the pandemic had a huge impact on the amateur athletes as well. Leagues started to close, and players weren’t able to play their sport. 

In December, the CDC posted information warning young athletes about the dangers of participating. “COVID-19 Cases are Extremely High, Avoid Playing Close-Contact or Indoor Sports,” the statement said.  

To decrease risk, they recommended not engaging in any close contact sports unless it was with members of your own household. In addition, they recommended wearing a mask, playing outside, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and avoiding crowds.

“COVID kept us from playing at the start of the year and prevented us from improving,” explained Gabriel P., who plays baseball. 

When the team was finally allowed to play, there were many rules in place to keep the players safe. They weren’t allowed in dugouts but instead brought their own chairs so that they could sit socially distanced from one another.  

However, as the vaccine came out, things started to change. “They’re not as strict with the rules,” Gabriel said. “We don’t have to have masks on the field. We can also use the dugouts.” 

It now remains to be seen how the pandemic has changed sports as we know them on the professional scene. In August, Forbes Magazine reported on the potential impacts, not the least of which is financial.

“Sports represent the 11th largest industry in the United States, wedged between communications (10) and chemicals (12). With an estimated worth of $750 billion, the games we play are serious business. And that business is in serious trouble,” the article stated.

Sports commentators from the Washington Post staff also weighed in on potential impacts to the sports industry. Sally Jenkins hoped that new business models might be created that could cut out “administrative middlemen” but predicted that some sports would not survive. 

Liz Clarke is concerned about the empty stadiums and thinks they might stick around for a long while. “At what point, if ever, will it be safe or prudent to pack 20,000-seat arenas with screaming fans for college basketball or NBA games?” Clark wondered. “What about football stadiums? The grandstands at Daytona International Speedway? It may be that for a long time, sports become entertainment that’s only offered via TV and not staged for spectators in the stands.”

Adam Kilgore suggested that there may be a shift in ownership as the financial hit to their industry encourages owners to sell.

Now that the vaccine is rolling out across the nation, sports fans might get the answers to some of the questions that have been plaguing them for the last year.