Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has cleared the way for sports to be played in Michigan without fans present. The Lions hope that’s a precursor to eventually playing with fans present.
“Governor Whitmer’s most recent Executive Order is an exciting step forward in our preparation for the 2020 season,” Lions president Rod Wood said in a statement posted on Twitter by the team. “We are working closely with her office to evaluate when and how we can safely play in front of our fans. With nearly 3 months until our regular season opener at Ford Field, I’m optimistic and encouraged by our progress.”
As recently mentioned, if fan-free games happen in states or counties without a stay-at-home order, the league anticipates that fans will congregate outside the venue on game day, creating yet another strange twist to our ongoing Twilight Zone existence. If they’ll be packed together outside the stadium, why not let them inside?
The issue presents a real dilemma for the NFL and its teams. On one hand, there’s plenty of money to be made (or, more accurately, to be not lost). On the other hand, there’s a responsibility to the community, and every game with fans potentially could become a super-spreader event.
The NFL continues to believe that the most significant risk of infection comes in confined spaces, and that open-air venues make it much harder for infected droplets to linger long enough to invade another person’s eyes or nose. The Lions, like plenty of other teams, play in a dome — it’s unclear whether a high roof will be enough open space to prevent recirculation of potentially infected air.