The light at the end of the tunnel is finally approaching the sports world as many organizations begin their plan of return. The MLB, NFL and NBA have started taking steps towards either resuming or starting their season.
The NFL recently announced its first steps towards a season start; opening their practice facilities. Some of them have already opened their facilities as of May 19th.
Even though the NFL Commissioner cleared teams to open their facilities, they still have to follow health guidelines. These guidelines state that they will only allow 50% of non-player staff in the facility unless the state limits them to a larger number.
Temperature screenings are required for anyone inside the facility while they also practice social distancing. This is just the first step of a multi-phase return plan for the NFL.
A memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that they are working towards proceeding with the next phases.
“We are actively working with the NFLPA on the protocols that would apply to player access to facilities and expect to have those protocols developed fairly soon.”
The first phase of re-opening also limited which players were allowed in. Only players who needed to continue physical therapy or another medical reason were allowed. Non-essential training like strength conditioning and football drills are not allowed.
The NFL implemented the second phase recently, as they have now re-opened ticket offices and retail shops.
The time for summer training camps is here. This is the time for players to come back to practice, and for some, to compete for a spot in the starting lineup. Because these camps are so important, the NFL has to look for ways to make sure they happen.
The NFL Commissioner sent a memo on June 2nd, stating that the teams will be allowed to have these training camps. But they can only have them in their local practice facilities.
This guideline affects teams like the Cowboys, Panthers, Redskins, Chiefs and Steelers, who usually held their practices in other facilities. If a team can prove that practicing at their local practice facility or stadium is harmful, the NFL can consider making an exception.
The NFL restricted teams from having joint practices as well. The goal is to limit the amount of traveling, facilities to clean, and contact between different players and staff.
Health guidelines like temperature screenings will probably still be in place. The number of people allowed in these facilities could also be affected by state guidelines.
It might look like all of these guidelines ensure a safe environment for players. But there are still a lot of “what ifs” in this process.
Coronavirus symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear. So passing a temperature screening process does not ensure that no one in the facility is infected.
ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano explains.
(Sound from ABC Newscall)
But as Graziano later states, the NFL has one advantage, and that is time.
The season is still two months away which gives time for more planning and for the pandemic regulations to ease. But training camps are very essential for a successful season. This means that these uncertainties need to be addressed very soon.