BY RYAN MERARD
As of September, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida would fully reopen its economy and move into Phase III. This call came with him easing restrictions on restaurants and bars, as well as allowing all Florida football teams to open with full capacity. With these decisions, he has shown that he is not taking public health as seriously as he should.
Shortly after the governor’s decision, University of Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen also showed his desire for packed stadiums, hoping that “our university administrator follows the governor” for the next game against Louisiana State University. Following his words, this would mean that Coach Mullen was hoping to see “The Swamp” filled with about 90,000 people.
Something ironic about this situation is that shortly after this press conference, his words came back to bite him as his own team had to cancel practice due to 21 positive COVID-19 cases. If the virus was able to spread as easily as it did among a football team of around 100 athletes, imagine the results if teams were allowed to have fully-packed stadiums.
Something ironic about this situation is that shortly after this press conference, his words came back to bite him as his own team had to cancel practice due to 21 positive COVID-19 cases.
The fact that DeSantis even made such an order is a reckless decision on his part and seems like he worries more about fully opening up the economy than public health. Encouraging large gatherings of tens of thousands of people in a state with several university and professional football teams while trying to bring the number of positive cases for the coronavirus down is just not reasonable.
Many times, individuals will argue that people who are “scared” to catch the virus should just stay home and let those who want to go out be free. However, catching the coronavirus does not affect just the individual but also can have effects on peers.
Giving teams the clearance to open with full capacity endangers the community of those who have to live next to others who may not be as careful as them. If universities were to ease off all restrictions at football games and crowds start to fill up again, social distancing would become more of a challenge as more people are allowed into the stadium.
Now, if a student happened to catch the virus at a football game, they may not be able to go home to isolate, so they would just spread it to others in residential halls. It is also reported that a carrier could go days before even noticing that they have symptoms, so who knows how many people an infected person might expose themselves to on a college campus before knowing they have the virus.
It seems as though the sports franchise owners are taking this pandemic more seriously than the governor, as many of them have refuted DeSantis’ permission to allow stadiums to open fully.
It seems as though the sports franchise owners are taking this pandemic more seriously than the governor, as many of them have refuted DeSantis’ permission to allow stadiums to open fully. Most teams, such as the Miami Dolphins, are sticking to a 25% capacity limit, and plan to do so for the rest of the season.
Regardless of what the teams decide to do on an individual basis, this was a very reckless decision by Governor DeSantis. There is a time and a place for everything, and now is simply not the time to give teams the ability to hold games with large crowds.
With National Football League (NFL) superstars like Tom Brady and Rob Grownskawski entering the Florida football scene and former college star Tua Tagovailoa finally achieving his highly anticipated career start with the Miami Dolphins, the number of fans that would show up if the teams listened to DeSantis would be uncertain, but definitely plenty.
Allowing more and more fans to gather into one area makes it harder to establish social distancing and creates a greater risk for the spread of COVID-19, so it’s best to not rush anything and stay with the limited capacity rules that most teams are currently following.
Illustration by Sofie Kahlig