A global pandemic, known in the virus that has killed many across the globe, and keeps us contained in our homes has already impacted our daily lives at home, work and at play. The aftermath of the virus in my opinion will create a paradigm shift in the experience for fans, media and athletes at sports events forever.
Prior to the pandemic, we were already with declining human interaction. Smart phones and social media largely replaced telephone calls, visits and person – to person conversation. It’s my position that the aftermath of the current pandemic will shift that curve even further. Here are some things that we previously experienced at sports events that may be changed or ended all together, forever:
- Pre-game entry: Moving forward, at a minimum, all fans can expect to be screened at the point of entry for tell tale signs of COVID-19 and any other infectious disease that can be transmitted by contact. Members of the media can expect even further scrutiny, as we share press rooms, the field and locker rooms (post game interviews) with athletes and come into close contact with them…well at least we do now anyway.
2. Speaking of locker rooms, I predict that the corona virus will usher in the end of post game interviews in the locker room. The risks extremely outweigh the rewards. I’ve participated in hundreds of post game interviews and I’ve always thought to myself, “what’s the point of us speaking with the players in the locker room after games?” I predict that there will be more stringent post game interview procedures from pro leagues and the NCAA.
3. Tailgating/pre-game experience: One of the most valued experiences of a sports fan is the pre-game tailgating experience. According to the American Tailgaters Association, the first occurrence of tailgating occurred in mid-summer of 1861. The “social distancing” mindset which is one of the short-term solutions to the ending the current pandemic, may live on beyond the existence of the disease itself. That in turn would mean that sports leagues would implement rules to reduce headcounts for tailgating events, space out tents, and possibly consider limiting the experience to individuals who have purchased tickets to the game itself. On the extreme, and really unpopular end of the spectrum, some sports teams may consider eliminating tailgating all together, at least until they figure out how to put protections in place.
4. Post-game handshake: