Questions loom over when DC sports return to normal


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Professional ice hockey winger Alex Ovechkin skating during an ice hockey match.

With several companies in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine, an important question arises: When will sports fans return to a pre-COVID normal?

Some would argue that we won’t see a pre-COVID normal anytime soon. One of those people is arguably the most trustworthy source of COVID news, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Dr. Anthony Fauci. According to CNBC, in a panel discussion with Harvard Medical School doctors, Fauci said, “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.”

Doctors and scientists also worry about the possibility of a double threat of the flu and COVID-19 in the upcoming months. Scientific American published an article on Sept. 6 addressing the worry scientists have. “The overlap of COVID-19 and influenza has epidemiologists and some policy makers concerned. The U.S. may soon face two epidemics at the same time, they worry, and this combination could precipitate a crisis unlike any other,” wrote freelance science journalist Marla Broadfoot.

They have to prevent players from being unsafe. I don’t go to many games, but if I did, I wouldn’t be going right now because of COVID.”

— Christopher Mctamany

Of course, whether or not we return to a pre-COVID normal depends on whether or not fans feel safe going back to the stadium. Teachers and students differ in their thoughts on reopening. Christopher McTamany, an AP social studies teacher and big Capitals fan, said, “They have to prevent players from being unsafe. I don’t go to many games, but if I did, I wouldn’t be going right now because of COVID.”

Junior Gabriel Klein is also a Caps fan and a Nationals fan as well. Klein has strong feelings on sports leagues restarting their seasons with no in-person attendance. He said, “I felt like fans gave the players energy to play harder at certain times throughout the game and now with no fans in attendance I feel like the team does not have as much pressure on them as they would if fans attended. I would love to be able to go back [to stadiums] and hang out with friends and watch games in person. [I would] wear a mask and I would try to keep my distance.”

Junior Andrew Reynolds, who is a Caps, Nats, and Washington Football Team fan, has a similar take on no in-person attendance. “While it’s very different with no fans, I think that the leagues are better off without them because it protects the athletes, coaching staff and sports personnel. With proper face coverings and social distancing I would feel comfortable attending a game within the next few months with friends or family.”

Our question still remains unanswered: When are DC sports coming back to normal? It’s clear that if stadiums do decide to open, younger fans would feel safe coming back to the stadium. However, it doesn’t seem like we will achieve maskless attendance anytime soon. Even if sports leagues consider reopening their stadiums, there would be clear opposition from politicians and public health officials that would keep stadiums closed. And, while several pharmaceutical companies are developing COVID-19 vaccines, there are concerns over the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. Astrazeneca’s vaccine trial is still on pause in the United States after an adverse reaction.

A Pew Research Poll from Sept. 17 suggested that just over half American adults would get a coronavirus vaccine. Virtually everyone agrees that as long as we don’t get a vaccine, life will not be the same.