The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted each industry nationwide, including many sports leagues that have been searching for ways to continue play.
The NBA, WNBA, MLS and NWSL seasons were all suspended in favor of returning in bubbles without fan attendance allowed at any games.
March Madness and all spring NCAA athletics were canceled.
Meanwhile, the NFL appears to want fan attendance this upcoming season and "is considering requiring fans attending games this season to sign liability waivers shielding the teams from COVID-19 lawsuits," per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic.
One league source told Kaplan that the waiver would be signed electronically.
Kaplan reports that NFL teams are preparing for various scenarios ranging from having no fans in stadiums and full attendance a la business as usual.
With the coronavirus pandemic reaching new heights in the United States, having fans in NFL stadiums this upcoming season would be irresponsible, according to many health experts.
Oregon governor Kate Brown recommended that all mass gatherings be canceled or heavily altered through September, and Oregon ranks as having the 12th fewest coronavirus cases, according to the New York Times, with 10,088 total cases. Brown's recommendation came in May before Oregon saw record-spikes in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Florida, the home state to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has 200,013 total cases, including a record of 10,059 new cases reported on Sunday.
The NFL wants Florida, who nearly had more new cases in a day than Oregon has had in months, to be able to host over 65,000 people at least 24 times this upcoming season. There's no way to frame that other than a severe lack of safety for not just the fans, but the players and staff that will be at risk at those events.
At President Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, all attendees were required to sign a waiver similar in fashion to what the NFL is proposing internally. The director of the Tulsa Health Department said on Thursday that it's too soon to link the rally, which 6,200 people attended largely without wearing masks, to new spikes in the county. But, Tulsa county has recorded more than 1,300 new cases in the first eleven days since the rally including a record 259 cases on June 23.
Now, the NFL season won't happen for months, and the league can always look to delay the season if they need to. We don't know what state the country will be in with regards to the coronavirus pandemic by September, but it appears unlikely that life will return to "normal" by then.
The virus "mostly spread[s] by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze," per the CDC. Having tens of thousands of fans screaming in unison, especially with four teams playing inside domes, would put everyone in attendance at risk. Especially when 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic.
For the league to discuss having fans in attendance this season, along with preparing for a life without cheering faithful in the stands, is what the league should be doing. Trying to force fans to sign away liability so they can give the league money while putting themselves at risk is irresponsible.
What decision will the NFL make? That remains to be seen.