Sports fans looking to the football season this fall as a reward for months protected in the midst of a global pandemic had thrown cold water on these hopes on Saturday.
While President Donald Trump reportedly said he believed the NFL season could start as planned, Governor Gavin Newsom replied that Californians shouldn’t expect to see crowded stadiums this fall while the state is up and running engages in a long battle against the deadly corona virus.
“I don’t expect this to happen in this state,” Newsom said when asked on Saturday whether he would allow NFL games to be played until September.
Although professional sports leagues continue to struggle to save their season, Newsom̵
“I have a lot of friends who work in Major League Baseball and the NFL (who asked me),” Newsom said when their leagues can return. His answer to her: “I would be very careful about this expectation.”
According to ESPN, Trump told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the heads of other professional sports leagues during a conference call on Saturday that he hoped to have fans back in arenas and stadiums by August and September. Week 1 of the NFL season would start on September 10th.
Later, at a White House press conference, Trump said he believed the sport would return “whenever we are ready as soon as we can.”
“I can’t give you a date, but I think it will be sooner rather than later,” he said.
It’s not the first time Trump has predicted that public life will return to normal much earlier than expected. Last month, he speculated that much of the nation could be reopened by Easter just to reverse that prediction and extend federal social distancing policies until April.
Even if efforts to curb COVID-19 were successful in the coming months, Newsom said he didn’t want to go too fast to ease the restrictions on meetings, leading the way for companies in Asia that reopened afterwards and then The virus was resurrected hastily.
“I am not here to guess someone,” said Newsom, who usually avoided paying homage to conflicts with Trump. “But I’m here to say the following: Our decision on this basis, at least here in the state of California, is determined by the facts, determined by the health experts, determined by our ability to fulfill this moment. Bend the curve and let the community monitor and test it to determine whether it is appropriate or not.
“At the moment, I’m just concentrating on the immediate, but I don’t expect this to happen in the next few months,” Newsom said.
Team officials from the 49ers, Raiders, A’s, Giants, Warriors and Sharks either postponed comments to league offices or could not be reached immediately on Saturday afternoon to respond to Trump and Newsom statements.
The Levi Stadium and all other NFL facilities are closed. The league has suspended offseason programs indefinitely and has not yet announced how it will deal with its draft, which is scheduled for later this month.
Sports Illustrated has reported that the NBA is exploring the possibility of playing a shortened post-season broadcast from empty Las Vegas locations, with players isolated to ensure they stay healthy. According to The Athletic, MLB officials plan to have quarantine teams play against each other in the spring training stadiums in Arizona and Florida, with no fans present.
But even these bare bones games could be risky.
In large parts of the country, public health contracts prohibit gatherings of any kind and encourage people to stay at least a meter away from people they do not live with. Having dozens of teams in close contact with dozens of players and coaches would obviously violate these instructions. In addition, the resources and testing required to ensure a strict quarantine of athletes could drain the care of hospitals and first responders who are already struggling with the lack of life-saving equipment.
Newsom didn’t go into the idea of playing games without fans on Saturday, nor did he speak directly to the stopped NBA or NHL seasons. A spokesman for the governor declined to answer follow-up questions.
Employee reporters Cam Inman, Kerry Crowley, Shayna Rubin, Wes Goldberg and Curtis Pashelka contributed to the reporting.