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Hall of Fame Game Cancelled

Let the cancellations begin. The Hall of Fame game between Pittsburgh and Dallas has been cancelled, and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be postponed until next year. Some people believe the preseason will be shaved down to just two games per team. But what happens if we get closer to the season and the pandemic is still out of control?

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19 comments, Last at 30 Jun 2020, 2:07pm

1 Cancellations

Are infection rates even trending toward being in control? It seems to me (I am not an epidemiologist) that things are currently trending slowly in the wrong direction (slowly compared to, say, April). But I don't see any reason to think it's going to get better until we get a cure (unlikely) or a vaccine. I think the NFL can have a season, but with empty or mostly empty stadiums.

The Premier League in England has restarted with matches "behind closed doors". NBC is piping in fake crowd noise to the broadcast (not to the stadium), which makes it a little less surreal. But it's nice watching live sports again.

2 There are 32 teams X (53 man…

In reply to by displaced_saints_fan

There are 32 teams X (53 man rosters + practice squaders + players yet to be cut + coaching staffs + training staffs + support personnel).

There will also be travel issues( where you are subject to quarantine).

Right now cases are surging amid the soft reopening. Seeing the rise in cases is even worse than I thought because I assumed it was the super spreading activities that were the main culprit. But sports venues, concerts, and cruise ships have been closed for a while now and the cases are still rising. 


I think it's fair to wonder if allowing an NFL season posses a serious public health concern

3 It doesn't help that the NFL…

It doesn't help that the NFL probably has a higher percentage of participants who are high risk for COIVD-19 compared to other sports.  I also expect that concussions don't interact well with COVID (and you don't want to recover from a concussion in a hospital that has a significant population recovering from COVID).

I don't expect football this year.  Maybe they can do a very spread out season with games every 2 or 3 weeks.

4 "Seeing the rise in cases is…

"Seeing the rise in cases is even worse than I thought because I assumed it was the super spreading activities that were the main culprit."

  I read somewhere that the size of the outbreak in Spain was attributed to the Liverpool-Atletico Madrid Champions League match in March.

  The problem is that even with mass gatherings banned, if you simply have people who are not taking any precautions mingling in smaller groups then going somewhere else and mingling some more, you get the same effect.  In AZ, once the stay at home suggestion expired lots of people immediately started behaving as if it was all over and normal service could be resumed.

6 What I'd read was the…

What I'd read was the concern that the Atletico match had brought the pandemic to Liverpool rather than vice versa. I don't know that there was a lot of evidence to support either claim. This just highlights how difficult it is for policy makers - our understanding is still limited and that gives people cover to believing what they want to believe. We all want certainty, but science doesn't work like that. Politicizing measures is not helpful, but that hasn't stopped it.

Anyway, back to the original post. Cancelling the Hall of Fame Game and/or reducing pre-season to two games are things I'd have supported without the pandemic.

7 One issue I have is doesn't…

One issue I have is doesn't appear the NFL is even addressing some of the main points of discussion. Such as...theres travel restrictions; so to the extent you want a season, everyone is going to need to co-locate together. Where is that going to happen?

Then there's this...you have huge staffs and a huge season. Maybe you pitch truncating the season to 8 games and playing every other week? 


The nfl has just been mum the whole time. Sure, its 3 months away but do we really expect this all going to go away by then?

Until the NFL offers some solutions to these problems, I have a hard time envisioning the season actually happening. IMO, the only way you can do it is to move players to a military style barracks. 

11 Mass Gatherings

"The problem is that even with mass gatherings banned" - I'm a foreigner so I'll say it. It seems like there have been mass gatherings in the US over the last three weeks even though they are banned - in the form of hundreds of thousands/millions of people in the street mostly not social distancing (without editorializing as to the situation). It seems like the fact that in California for example the case spike has been recorded primarily amoung young people suggests this is a very large component among the increase in cases. In places without urban centers that draw such gatherings (like say Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, etc...) there has simply been steady state transmission consistant with the reality that lockdown has not reduced R0 below 1, as is true basically everywhere where their is decent data.

What is really encouraging is the chart for place like NY, where because of the size of the early transmission meant that mass gatherings have not percipitated a large scale infection event. That suggests (along with serology testing), that because of the immunilogical profile of the virus herd immunity can be obtained to seriously limit community spread (cases plunged after ~25% exposure in NYC). Given that the CDC indicates were at about 6% exposure backward looking throughout the US it seems likely that after the large community spread events of the last few weeks the US will probably get to reduced community spread through exposure by the time of the start of the football season - it should put the NFL in a good position from a factual point of view (though what the political/psycological impact of the people who will die in the second phase of the pandemic in the US will be is unclear to me).

13 Bizarrely, it does not…

Bizarrely, it does not appear that the mass protests have actually caused an overall increase in the COVID transmission rate.




Based on cell phone data, people not taking part in the protests (who are the heavy majority of the population) were much more like to stay home during the protests which appears to have outweighed the effect (in terms of virus transmission) of the protests themselves.


Now this is not really applicable to the topic at hand (NFL games require more travel than protests and non spectators will not avoid going outside because of them), still something worth noting.

14 Mass Gatherings

"Now this is not really applicable to the topic at hand (NFL games require more travel than protests and non spectators will not avoid going outside because of them), still something worth noting."

The protests are a very similar phenomineu to attending a games as a spectator. Almost identical in terms of travel profile and the nature of the activity. The degree to which spreading occured at them is probably the best sample we will ever get as to the consequence of holding with-spectator sporting events.

Unfortunately if you look at the only direct data we have (the data on infection in police forces), it seems the protests definately were mass-transmission events; because of the youngward skew of the protestors, and the fact that the CDC estimates they are still only detecting ~10% of infections (highly skewed to infections in older people where the symptoms show up) we're likely just begining to see the effect, as protestors spread their a-symptomatic cases to others. The NBER paper on which the contravening narrative in the media is based primarily on tracking data rather than actual transmission data (since trasmission data for the protestors themselves is not being collected in most states). For this reason the conclusion should be dismissed as premature. Their actual conclusion should be stated that the states in general saw an increase in agregate social distancing, their study infers all social contact is equal risky which is obviously false. The actual data on caseload, to the extent that it has come in, can be seen on page 48 of the paper shown below. The decline in caseload in NYC basically offsets the controled gains in every other city with protests, and there is a compelling explaination for the NYC outlier (very high exposure so far). 





17 The CDC is not really…

In reply to by sbond101

The CDC is not really reliable here -- we're likely detecting much more than 10% of new cases (maybe 1/3 to 1/5). The CDC is is relying on serological studies, which are not reliable in cases like this, where IFR iis ~1%. Moreover, even if NYC has had ~25% infection, that is FAR below the amount necessary to trigger herd immunity, so it can't be treated as an outlier in that regard.

18 "NYC has had ~25% infection…

"NYC has had ~25% infection..."

The last published data on this shows 21% as of mid April. We do not have published data that is more recent but can easily infer from the hospitalizations/deaths that we have at least twice the exposure by now, probably more. Especially given that those <20 often don't even carry enough viral load to be carriers it is very likely that herd immunity can be conferred at the low end of typical (something like 50% of pop), and a slowing effect before that. It seems reasonable to infer that were there in NYC.


"The CDC is relying on serological studies, which are not reliable in cases like this, where IFR iis ~1%." - what is the basis for this assertion. I've heard nothing published academically or even in the media that suggests seriology testing is unreliable at the level of population analysis (not the same as being 100% accurate).



8 I'm not the staff…

In reply to by displaced_saints_fan

I'm not the staff epidemiologist, so I can only speak in broad generalizations, but part of the issue we're having now is that states which took precautions early ARE trending in the right direction and ARE coming under control, while states that waited or have not yet taken precautions are scrambling to catch up.  It's been a hodge-podge of decisions across the country, which makes figuring out if a national sport is safe to play particularly difficult.


I would be at least mildly surprised if any preseason games actually happen; the risk v. reward ratio of a practice, exhibition game versus a regular season contest is just a little different.

10 Oh my god I HATE ​​​​​​the…

In reply to by displaced_saints_fan

Oh my god I HATE ​​​​​​the fake crowd noise on soccer matches, it makes things more surreal to me, not less. I have trouble focusing on the match with it on. I actually enjoy getting to hear the players talk to each other

9 I think they should sit…

I think they should sit tight for 60 days, and hope enough has changed to make a season starting on the first weekend in October feasible. Too many completely uncontrollable factors to do much more than try to avoid a completely futile and stupid gesture.

12 With players from other…

With players from other sports testing positive (NBA, NCAA football, etc), not to mention the surge in cases across many highly populated areas, I can't imagine that they're going to be in any position to open training camp on time, much less play actual games.

19 I think you're seeing the…

I think you're seeing the effects of testing everyone. You'll also notice the vast majority of those detections in sports players have been asymptomatic -- they didn't know they had it until the test.

15 As noted above, English…

As noted above, English Premier League soccer has restarted, in a region (like many parts of the USA) that is far from in control of the virus. Granted the NFL presents an even greater challenge in terms of scale, but equally has the benefit of many extra months to plan. Much can happen between now and September, and recent trends in infections don't look great, but I would still strongly favor the regular season beginning on time. There's too much at stake.

16 8 players withdrew from this…

8 players withdrew from this weeks PGA tour event due to cornavirus, some due positive tests, some due to playing partners or caddies testing positive. This is not a huge % but sure points to more difficulties for contact sports.On  a positive note I just saw an article about  electric whistles, allowing refs to wear masks and remove one potential source of airborne particles.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/sports/basketball/electronic-whistles-referees.html