The NFL wants fans to be able to attend games during a pandemic. The NFL doesn’t want to be responsible for what may happen to fans who attend games during a pandemic.
Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com reports that the league is considering a requirement that fans sign liability waivers protecting the league from lawsuits based on contracting COVID-19. The potential waiver “likely” will be forwarded to teams by the middle of next week.
“It is probably something you do electronically, just trying to figure out the operational challenges associated with waivers,” an unnamed source told Kaplan. “Just have to work out how best to do that.”
Although no waiver is necessary as to the question of whether fans who attend games assume the risk of catching the virus (indeed, anyone and everyone with any amount of sense and awareness knows about the virus by now), the question becomes whether teams and stadiums can or will take reasonable steps to protect fans from getting it. And the problem is that, if someone catches it, they’ll be inclined to argue that, whatever the teams or stadiums did, it clearly wasn’t good enough.
That said, it will be difficult to prove that a fan caught the virus at the game, even if there’s evidence of negligence or recklessness by teams and stadiums.
With so many unresolved issues still percolating in the NFL as it tries to figure out how to accomplish the 2020 season, I’d rather see the NFL spending time and effort resolving the various challenges than coming up with ways to escape liability to paying customers, especially if teams and stadiums eventually engage in behavior for which they should be held liable.
Put another way, the league should be spending its time focusing on insisting on fan wearing masks to games instead of insisting on fans signing away their rights.