What are you willing to risk in order to see live sports in person soon?
Would you pay extra money? What about signing your life away?
That last question may be a bit extreme, but generally speaking, this country may have to make sure that pens are at the ready so that signatures can be made.
As of right today, the second day of July, the chances of professional, collegiate and high school athletics starting remain up in the air, and the chances of those seasons finishing are even more iffy, especially seasons that could be projected to end in November and December, when the normal flu season could combine with COVID-19, either a second wave or a continuation of what's taken place since early 2020, to make life even more difficult in the United States.
Now, I'm not here to get deep into the weeds about COVID-19 particulars. I'm here to say that I think liability waivers will be prevalent when it comes to attending sporting events going forward.
The Ohio State athletic department made its student-athletes sign a "Buckeye Acknowledgment and Pledge" if they wanted to use the athletic facilities during the summer. OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith said the pledge is not a waiver of liability or even a legal document, just a signed document that acknowledges that COVID-19 can be contracted even if all CDC and local precautions are followed.
Some legal experts begged to differ.
The NFL is considering a liability waiver if it permits fans attend games this season. That will cover the league and keep it from potential lawsuits if a fan contracts the virus at a game or in the parking lot tailgating.
I can see other leagues eventually choosing to do that once they decide to let fans attend games. The trickle-down effect could see college athletic programs making their fans sign liability waivers as well.
I've thought about this for a long time and would not be surprised in the least to see teams send those waivers in the same packets that they mail season tickets in. Or have it put into the fine print on the back of a game ticket.
I'm not advocating for or against the policy, but I'm also not naive. These franchises and athletic programs need money, especially the ones that missed most or all of the spring season. While there are people who will not be willing to go out in public to events with large crowds, there are others who won't mind doing just that if they can see their favorite team play.
Just know that, if you are in the latter group, be prepared to potentially sign away your health.
No, I don't care if you think I'm fear mongering. This virus is a real thing. But I'm not telling anyone to not go to games if attendance is allowed. All I'm saying is be prepared to sign something before you step foot into the stadium or arena.
To be fair, I think the media may have to either sign some similar type of consent form, or be relegated to covering games from home. COVID-19 could completely change how games are covered, but at the least, the teams and schools will want to take as little liability as possible while still being able to earn money during an unconventional time in this country's history.
Would I mind going to a game, either as a fan or professionally as a reporter? That's a tough question to answer, and one that comes down to your head versus your heart. If it's my job, and I'm able to do it, I will go and take all the necessary precautions I have to. As a fan, I'm a little more skeptical.
But I can't say that if my favorite college football team made the national championship that I wouldn't consider going to the game. But it's not as cut and dry of a decision as it would have been at the start of the year.
In conclusion: don't be surprised if you have to sign liability waivers to get what you want this fall. Also, wear a mask to help slow down this virus so we are more likely to have sports. We all want, and in some cases need, sports back.
For some of us it's our livelihood.
David Berry covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org