How Has the Coronavirus Affected the XFL and the NFL?
Now considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak of COVID-19, known more commonly as the coronavirus, has affected every continent worldwide except Antarctica and every aspect of human life, including professional sports.
If you want to keep up with updates on which leagues are getting canceled or postponed, head to Coronavirus Sports Updates.
With the National Football League (NFL) currently in its offseason and the XFL in the middle of their regular season, the effects of the coronavirus on professional football are still more subtle than they have been on pro basketball (the NBA season has been suspended for now), but gradually both leagues will be forced to help ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19’s ongoing spread.
Here, we take a closer look at how the coronavirus has forced the XFL to shift its regular season and the NFL to change the way it operates its offseason plus what’s been reported so far on how America’s professional football leagues are handling this worldwide crisis.
Check out also, our best prop bets of the week around NBA being postponed, March Madness, and much more.
What Exactly is COVID-19?
The technical definition of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which reportedly started in China, states it is “an infectious disease caused by the virus strain severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”
The most common symptoms include a fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath, while some of the less common symptoms are muscle pain, sputum production, and a sore throat.
Spreading of the virus happens from person to person “via respiratory droplets produced from the airways,” with coughing being the main source of the transfer.
The majority of COVID-19 cases are not serious and the symptoms are mild, but in some of the more serious cases, the sickness progresses to pneumonia and multi-organ failure and, depending on the victim’s age and health, death occurs in 1-5% of the time.
How Do I Stay Safe From the Coronavirus?
The best way to stay safe from the coronavirus is to follow the common-sense measures that have been recommended by the WHO and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water is the best preventative measure to take.
Also, to minimize the chance of contracting the virus, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow if you have to cough.
How Has the Spread of the Coronavirus Affected the World?
The number of affected countries has tripled in just two weeks, and currently, there have been more than 134,679 cases and 4,973 deaths worldwide, while 69,142 patients have since recovered.
Every continent but Antarctica has been affected, with most countries, including the United States now, carrying out mass testing and banning public events where people congregate as well as smaller gatherings in wedding halls, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, and other public venues.
As of Thursday, there have been more than 1,336 cases of the coronavirus in the United States and 38 patients have died, and as a result, the U.S. has suspended all travel from Europe, cruise lines have shut down their operations and universities and schools are suspending classes and sending students home.
Several American cities have wisely canceled their upcoming St. Patrick’s Day parade and many music festivals, like SXSW, have been canceled while the stock market has plummeted from a bull to a bear market in just a few days.
Is it True Tom Hanks Tested Positive for COVID-19?
Actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson both recently tested positive during their visit to Australia for a film festival.
Their plan is to follow the recommended medical protocols, including staying isolated as long as “public health and safety require.”
How Has the Coronavirus Affected the Major Sports Leagues?
On Monday of this week, four major North American sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS) told the media that they would be closing locker rooms, clubhouses and facilities to media and non-essential personnel in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.
On Thursday, the MLB announced that they have canceled Spring Training Games starting immediately, and Opening Day, previously scheduled for March 26, will now be delayed for at least two weeks.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended its season after one of its players on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, though Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban does not expect the 2019-20 NBA season to be canceled.
Also on Thursday, the NHL announced it has suspended its season due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, with 189 games and 3 ½ weeks remaining in the hockey league’s regular season, and the MLS has suspended its 2020 season until further notice.
The NCAA had initially announced that fans would not be allowed at their upcoming March Madness tournament but that the games would still take place without spectators in the arenas, but since then they have canceled that tourney and all winter and spring championships, including the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
How Has the XFL Been Affected By the Spread of the Coronavirus?
The XFL was right in the middle of their regular season and its eight teams were scheduled to play their Week 6 games during this upcoming weekend, but the league has suspended the 2020 season.
The league was in the middle of its inaugural season and despite this setback still plans to deliver another season next year.
XFL’s Official Statement on Coronavirus
In a statement released to the media, the XFL commissioner Oliver Luck had this to say:
“Currently, the XFL will not be playing its regular-season games. However, all players will be paid their base pay and benefits for the 2020 regular season. All XFL ticket holders will be issued refunds or credit toward future games. The XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years.
In addition, the XFL is also advising its players that they are allowed to sign immediately with teams in the NFL (or any other pro football league), but only once they complete their exit physicals, which will take place sometime on Friday.
How Will the NFL Be Affected By the Spread of the Coronavirus?
Even though the NFL is currently in its offseason and the first regular-season game isn’t scheduled until September, it will still be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
There are multiple NFL offseason events scheduled to be held in the next couple of months, and here we take a look at how each of these activities will be affected.
Please keep in mind that this situation is ongoing and fluid, so how it is handled will most likely be evolving over the next few weeks, so it’s important to always get current information and stay up to date on recommended protocols.
In terms of the NFL, here is what we know right now as of early Friday, March 12.
NFL Organizational Offseason Travel
The NFL is, just like all the other professional sports leagues, “closely monitoring developments” related to the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes all the travel that has to take place just before the NFL Draft happens.
Some NFL teams are changing up their pre-draft travel plans by limiting commercial flights for coaches and scouts and shutting down their facilities until further notice, while others are taking a more ‘wait and see’ approach.
However, according to league sources, all football franchises are on high alert and will continue to monitor the unfolding situation.
College Pro Days
During this part of the NFL’s offseason, various universities around the United States hold ‘pro days,’ where representatives from the different pro football franchises show up to interview the school’s athletes and watch them compete while doing drills on the field.
There are plenty of pro days still scheduled between now and when the NFL Draft takes place starting on April 23, and so far most teams are planning to attend them, but that will most likely change in the next few weeks given how serious the coronavirus spread has become in the United States.
NFL Free Agency
A major part of the NFL offseason is the start of free agency, where players who are no longer affiliated with a team or whose contract has expired and are free to join another club get signed by the football franchises who need them.
In 2020, free agency begins on Wednesday, March 18 at 4 pm ET, which also marks the first day of the regular season, and football franchises will be in a hurry to fill any roster gaps they have before the upcoming NFL Draft.
Free agency dealings often involve player interviews and therefore travel, so this aspect of the league’s offseason could be directly affected, especially if the ability to fly within the U.S. is at all restricted (which currently it is not).
According to this Tweet by sports reporter Adam Schefter, nothing has been decided yet regarding delaying the start of the season, so Free Agency should still take place as scheduled.
NFL said it has “no plans to move the start of the league year.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2020
NFL Draft Prospect Visits
The players whom teams are considering drafting usually travel to speak in person with the various coaches and front office personnel (teams can fly in 30 total prospects), so this ritual could be affected depending on how restricted travel within the states becomes.
According to one player agent, these so-called top-30 visits “could be hugely impacted.”
Currently, there are no inter-U.S. travel restrictions, so presumably, these meetings will continue to take place, but this could, of course, change, so the league will continue to monitor the situation and react accordingly.
The 2020 NFL Draft
The 2020 NFL Draft, where the best college players are selected by all 32 NFL teams, is scheduled to take place next month in Las Vegas from April 23-25, and since the players, team personnel, fans, and the media will all descend at once on the Vegas strip, officials are obviously concerned.
Reportedly, a new plan to react to the gradual spread of the coronavirus has yet to be formally developed by the NFL, though officials are monitoring the situation very closely, with sports reporter Ian Rapoport Tweeting this on Thursday:
— The NFL has not canceled any pre-draft visits or workouts. That’s at a team’s discretion.
— The biggest issue for free agency may be getting players physicals. Every year, there is 1 or 2 players who fail, but how does a team ask them to get on a commercial flight?
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2020
Prior to that on Wednesday, Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a phone interview:
“The league office, the players association and the city and the state are working together. They’re making a measured decision. Health and safety will always be No. 1.”
That all said, it seems difficult to imagine that this typically heavily attended event will be unaffected by this situation, though specifically how remains to be seen.
Annual NFL Owners Meeting
The annual meeting of the NFL owners that was scheduled for March 29 – April 1 in Palm Beach, Florida has been canceled, according to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The point has been made that it is possible to hold this type of meeting by teleconference, so chances are that is what will happen since there is a risk of showing up in person to this important meeting.
Again, the developing situation is carefully monitored by league officials.
Offseason Training Activities (OTA’s)
Starting on April 6, any NFL teams that hired a new head coach at the end of last season are permitted to begin their offseason training activities, called OTA’s, while clubs with returning head coaches start theirs on April 20.
The OTA’s involve countless flights and meetings, plus thousands of fans show up nationwide to watch, so all of that could change depending on how serious the threat of COVID-19 becomes by then.
For fans still hoping to attend the OTA’s or any of the NFL offseason activities, make sure to keep up to date on how the league is handling the unfolding situation because it could directly impact your plans.