The NFL is not only hoping to begin the 2020 season on time and as scheduled but it also reportedly wants to do so with fans in the stands.
Jay Glazer of The Athletic and Fox Sports reported: "I know the league is making plans to move forward. Every indication points toward them trying to have a full season with fans being included. This is fluid, it changes by the day, by the hour in some cities. I don't think any of us should be in the prediction game on this one. Let's just go by the facts per day/week/month."
Given that leagues like the NBA, MLB, NHL, UFC, Premier League and La Liga, among others, are on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the timeline for not only holding professional sporting events, but doing so in front of live fans, remains up in the air.
And the decision could be entirely out of the NFL's hands. If particular states are still under stay-at-home orders come September and ban large gatherings of people, holding NFL games in front of fans in those states won't be permitted.
The NFL would have some decisions to make in such a scenario. Would they suspend the season until those states allow live sporting events? Would they work out a plan to hold the games without fans? Or would they relocate to neutral sites in states where live sporting events were permitted, gathering teams in a few locations in an effort to start the season on time?
A lot remains unknown because of the pandemic. While some states are either ending their stay-at-home orders or easing off of certain restrictions, there remains the possibility of a second outbreak of COVID-19, or that a second wave during the fall or winter—coinciding with flu season—could be extraordinarily taxing on the medical system.
To date, there have been 1,193,027 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per CNN.com, with 70,110 deaths.