The resurgence of the pandemic has meant that various sectors and industries have had to contend with renewed restrictions on the movement of people, which has severely impacted economies throughout this year. Sports tournaments and events are also under threat again, with athletes testing positive or pulling out due to concerns about the virus. The NFL is one such league whose 2020 season is now in danger of not being completed due to these concerns.

What has happened thus far in the 2020 NFL season?

The NFL managed to start off this year on time, and it was going off well enough up until Week 4, where two games had to be postponed due to the pandemic and positive tests from players and staff. This has now put a lot of pressure on the board and the league as to whether this season will be completed at all, and there are also betting markets that have opened up on this, as well as how many more games could be postponed.

A positive test for Cam Newton meant that the New England Patriots’ game with the Kansas City Chiefs had to be postponed by a few days, but it was not needed to be moved further back since the virus had not spread among the team. However, this was not the case for the other game, where positive tests for players and staff in Tennessee meant that the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans was moved all the way back to Week 8, and this was only possible by moving another game, between the Steelers and the Ravens, to Week 7. Thus, there have already been three games that have had to be moved around due to COVID, and there is no telling as to how many more will be affected in the weeks to come.

Impact on Sponsorships

This may also have an impact on sponsorships. As the NFL has been softening its stance on gambling, it has been doing so based on a growing understanding of the profitable nature of any partnerships.

Online gambling has become a bigger business than ever before, with websites such as providing fans with online betting and gambling options. However, with games being moved around and postponed, this could have an adverse impact on sponsorships and the money that comes into the league, especially as betting revenues will also fall with matches not being played.

It seems as though the United States is moving into the second wave of the pandemic, with hotspots in the likes of New York where schools and restaurants are being closed once again. In a situation like this, it is likely that more games will have to be postponed, even with the NFL’s strict testing and isolation protocols.

How many more games will be moved?

Given the current rate of the spread of the virus as well as the number of games postponed so far, it is likely that we will see 10-11 games being moved throughout the course of the entire 17-week season. There have also been concerns around the Super Bowl next year, which is still around four months away. However, there are ways to mitigate the risk if the country is still in the midst of a full-blown pandemic come February 2021.

Given that the Super Bowl will be held at a neutral venue, with two weeks of preparation time, it would be possible to create a mini-bubble to host the event. Additionally, with just two teams involved instead of the 32 who play every weekend, it would be much easier to manage logistics, testing, and isolation protocols, meaning that it is extremely unlikely that the date of the Super Bowl would need to be changed next year.