(PoliticalLookout.com)- The National Football League is plowing forward with plans to start their season as normally scheduled, but Dr. Anthony Fauci is worried about the plan.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believes football players would need to be placed in a “bubble” environment and isolated from all others if the NFL wants to conduct a successful season through the fall and winter. As he told CNN in an interview:
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall. If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”
Unlike some other North American professional sports leagues, the NFL is planning to hold games in each team’s home stadium, as long as that’s allowed by local health guidelines.
The National Basketball League, meanwhile, is creating a bubble environment in Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. The National Hockey League is discussing plans to have two to four playing “hubs” that would in effect act like a bubble environment.
Major League Baseball’s current plan is similar to that of the NFL’s.
NFL teams are set to open training camps in late July, and the regular season is slated to begin on September 10, as of now. Testing and other safety measures are constantly being discussed between the NFL and the Players Association, according to officials.
The NFL’s chief medical officer, Allen Sills, says the league is hopeful it can start the season on time and complete it all the way through without any hiccups. As he said this week:
“I am optimistic. But I think that we all have to be realistic as well to say that none of us can predict the future … I just think that we’re going to see a whole lot of progress that’s made, and that’s going to continue to work to our benefit.
“I greatly respect Dr. Fauci and feel like he’s raised a number of really important issues here. In fact, those are the very same issues that we’ve been working on all throughout. We know that we have to construct a rigorous testing program, a rigorous screening program, surveillance program. We know we have to really carefully manage any exposure. So, he has absolutely targeted the very issues that we and the NFL Players Association have been working on collaboratively.”
The NFL is by far the most popular professional sport in the United States, and its return could have a significant positive financial impact on cities and states throughout the country. While it’s unlikely that football stadiums will be packed with fans this fall, even games being played with no fans in attendance could be a boon to many cities throughout the country.