Super Bowl: “Reopening” for the Wealthy vs. Reopening for Us

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, February 7th in Tampa, Florida. The game will pit the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It should be an exciting match-up of star quarterbacks with Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes trying to lead their respective teams to victory.

In the news, it has come out that the NFL will be having 25,000 fans attend the game, including 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers as a PR move to thank them for all they have done in the fight against COVID.

In preparation for these fans, NFL health & safety specialists privately worked with the CDC to develop a whole COVID mitigation strategy to ensure the fans can attend. This includes staggering the arrival time of fans to prevent crowding when entering and exiting the stadium, giving personal PPE kits to each fan upon arrival at the stadium, and ensuring fans are social-distanced in “pods” greater than 6 feet by installing cardboard cut-outs of fake fans between seats to make it look like the stadium is full. Measures will also be taken to prevent crowding in bathrooms and when people are standing in lines at the concession stands to also minimize any potential for airborne transmission of the virus.

To ensure all staff and vendors are tested beforehand, the NFL also boasted how they will have completed 200,000 health screenings and provided 35,000 PCR tests to all stadium staff in the lead-up to the game.

When you compare this “reopening” of the Super Bowl to fans and compare it to the discussion around reopening schools in our society right now, we see clearly what the priorities of this society are.

The NFL is taking COVID precautions that we know are effective – things like ensuring fans are wearing masks and enforcing social distancing policies.

Using the same scientific rationale, the CDC and the Biden administration are now pressuring public schools to open up, saying that with proper masking and social distancing, transmission risk is low and that schools can reopen safely without vaccinating teachers!

This science is the same, but the NFL has the resources to make this happen and our schools don’t. How is this going to work in practice? In our underfunded public schools that often can have 30-35 students cramped into small classrooms, social distancing is an illusion.

This is like many things in our society. We know what the solutions are, and we have the ability to implement them if we mobilize the proper resources. But where does our society prioritize its resources? The resources of this society are used to ensure that wealthy people can enjoy their day at the game, and not that millions of students and teachers can safely return to in-person education.