Here’s What Experts Say About Attending Sporting Events Under New CDC Guidelines


Houston Astros fans reach to catch a baseball hit by Texas Rangers left fielder Willie Calhoun (5) at the top of the first inning during the baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros on May 13, 2021 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.

Leslie Plaza | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

Mask warrants are slowly declining after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their guidelines on Thursday. This could be good news for sports leagues, so TBEN has spoken to a few pundits about what this means for fans who can’t wait to get back to games in person.

The CDC said people who are fully vaccinated can, in most cases, ditch protective facial clothing and no longer need to stay six feet away. Unvaccinated people still have to follow more stringent guidelines as they remain at risk.

“If you are fully immunized, you can start doing the things you stopped because of the pandemic,” CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky told reporters. “We have all dreamed of this moment, when we can regain a certain sense of normalcy.”

The CDC has been hailed and criticized for its decision.

Professional sports leagues, including Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, have been operating under city and state restrictions with their capacity due to the pandemic. The leagues have advised clubs to take inspiration from their mandate to mask local officials. Masks during matches are still required and this rule may remain in effect.

The new rules are good for business, as professional sports leagues are attracting more fans, helping them recover from billions of losses. This should further support the already wealthy National Football League, as clubs like the Dallas Cowboys want 100% capacity for the 2021 season.

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No free card to get out of prison

The CDC always advises people to honor trade guidelines when it comes to hiding warrants. Indoor arenas are riskier than outdoor arenas if you are not vaccinated. So the NBA and National Hockey League may need to keep their guidelines in place as they prepare for their playoffs.

Gil Fried, professor of sports management at New Haven University, has advised professional teams to be cautious.

“When you’re in an arena, you don’t know what other people have and whether or not they’re vaccinated,” Fried said. “I still wouldn’t go to a place without wearing a mask.”

Asked when the leagues should drop mask terms, Fried said, “When the numbers around the world are going down.” He then highlighted the national lockdown in Turkey, with cases climbing to more than 60,000 a day.

“Turkey was doing very well and was seen as a model of success. And now they have backed off in no time,” Fried said.

Also consider the recent Covid-19 outbreak in the New York Yankees that occurred while team members were vaccinated. A positive test on Thursday ruled out Yankees player Gleyber Torres for at least 10 days under MLB rules. And the league reported 10 new positive cases on Friday.

Fried said leagues shouldn’t move too quickly with the mask requirements dropping.

“I think that’s great news for things like in-person training, but it’s not a jail release card that’s going to make everything better,” Fried said of the CDC news. “If you are moving too fast it can be scary for people,” he added. “They’ve been closed for months. Yes, they can’t wait to go out and do things, but there are still a lot of people scared. That’s part of the phycological side.”

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Fans represent the national anthem of the game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Sacramento Kings on May 7, 2021 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif.

Rocky Widner | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Arenas are safer than you think

At this point, the risk for leagues to change protocol is greater, as there are still accountability issues. And city and state officials still hold the keys to the fans’ full return.

On May 19, New York will allow 33% capacity for unvaccinated sections at the Yankees and Mets games and offer free vaccinations at the games. The Knicks are operating at 25% of their capacity. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia 76ers plan to allow 50% capacity as the team enters the playoffs.

At the league level, MLB plans to keep Covid-19 consultative with the teams in place. The NBA did not respond to TBEN’s request for comment on its plans after the CDC update.

But Stephen Kissler, who studies the spread of infectious diseases at Harvard University, said indoor arenas are safer now than before Covid. During the pandemic, teams invested in disinfecting facilities, germ killing technology and improving ventilation systems.

“All of these things together don’t reduce risk to zero, but they reduce it to something much closer to the risks we take every day,” Kissler said.

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NFL clubs have allowed more people to congregate in games after the start of the 2020 season with limited capacity. More than 20,000 people attended the Super Bowl in February. But it was outside. Asked about the risk of Covid-19 with fully vaccinated people at a sporting event indoors – and wearing masks – Kissler said the odds are low.

“One of the things that I would have liked with the CDC guidelines and maybe the arenas can think too is that for these mask recommendations, they should be related to the prevalence in the community around her.” , said Kissler. “If you are vaccinated and you wear a mask, and someone next to you is not, and the prevalence in the community is low, then I think there is a chance that the person next to you is contagious and transmits it to you, while you have a mask and are vaccinated, are extremely weak. “

Kissler said it would be acceptable to allow 75% capacity at indoor sporting events as cases decline.

“This side of caution makes a lot of sense – doing these things slowly,” Kissler said. “But we’re entering a time when a Covid infection isn’t that scary anymore, which is great,” he added. “This is what we have been advocating for all this time.

“I don’t think Covid is likely to go away. But with enough people vaccinated and with some level of immunity against Covid – where previously an infectious Covid would have stopped things, I think we can raise the threshold a bit. . “