We are fast approaching the start of the 2020 NFL season, and fans still do not know if they will be able to attend games or not.
The tricky situation here, because the USA is so big and each area has different rules surrounding Covid-19, is that all teams are going to approach this slightly differently. What will work well for one team, may not be possible for another.
Teams have so far outlined their plans and what they hope will happen over the coming weeks and months, though this will all need approval at state level. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has explained the rules around training camp recently and with pre-season cancelled, the step after training camp will be to play competitive games.
Will Fans Attend at all This Season?
The best guess is that they will in some capacity, but there is a strong possibility that a handful of NFL teams will have to play their entire season behind closed doors due to the severity of the situation in their area.
In a joint statement, the New York Giants and New York Jets have already stated that fans will not be allowed to attend during 2020 until further notice, due to the situation in New York.
The situation is different elsewhere though, with many teams making plans for limited attendance during the season, with the most common figure being around 20% of the usual attendance.
With this in place, no tailgating and more restrictions, the fan experience is going to be very different for those attending and even worse for those who are not able to get in because of the limited crowd.
How Will No or Limited Fans Affect Games?
When analysing a game of football, we often look at where the game is played and how much of an impact the crowd will have. Regardless of what happens next season, this will no longer matter.
If the stadium is empty, all home advantage based on atmosphere is gone. If the stadium is part-full, the same applies really, you need a full and rocking stadium to affect the opposition, we won’t have that this coming season.
Will this bring skill to the fore? With fewer outside influences could we see the best teams coming out on top more so than usual? Those taking advantage of betting promotions to bet on the NFL will certainly be interested in this, and how it will affect the odds. We are likely to see road teams priced up slightly shorter than they normally would be when travelling away because of the situation with fans.
The other thing to consider is how players are going to get up for the games. Many NFL players thrive on the atmosphere and love playing in front of a crowd. Running out onto the field in an empty stadium is not going to help these players at all, how will that affect things?
There are many questions to answer ahead of the 2020 season beginning, the only thing we know so far is that the experience for fans will be very different.