Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order last week allowing pro sports teams to return to business, without fans. And while she wants to see her local sports teams return, she’s being realistic about what that’s going to look like.
Via John Niyo of the Detroit News, Whitmer said during an interview on 97.1 The Ticket that having many fans in the stands won’t be realistic for some time.
“It’s really important that we resume some normalcy, but do it in a safe manner,” Whitmer said. “I’ve had people say, ‘Oh, you’re gonna cancel sports.’ I said, ‘C’mon, let’s keep our wits about us. I’m not gonna to cancel sports, but we’re going to watch it differently.’ And that’s for our safety. And maybe this is one season of doing it this way, but it’s the smart way to do it to keep the athletes safe, keep the sport going and give us the ability to enjoy it.”
Whitmer has said for weeks that full stadiums probably aren’t a reality until there’s a vaccine, and it seems the NFL is gradually acknowledging that things are going to be far from normal as well. Some teams are holding back ticket inventory, several have offered refunds for season tickets, and the league announced a plan to tarp off the first few rows of seats in each stadium to create a barrier between players and fans (but mostly to sell advertising to offset revenue losses).
While the NFL is a month away from training camps opening, other sports are moving forward with their returns in late July, and concerns remain.
“Any time people are traveling, especially between states and especially coming from a state that’s having such a massive outbreak like Florida is right now, we all have to be cautious,” Whitmer said. “So the MLB and the Tigers have a really thoughtful, evidence-based plan to keep people quarantined to ensure that they mitigate spread and test all their employees as well as the athletes.
“I think we can navigate this. We just have to be really smart and remember this virus hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s changed is we’ve learned how to live with it better to protect ourselves, And that’s why we all have to keep our guard up. I see outbreaks happening in Michigan because people are letting their guard down. And that’s something that’s really important, that every one of us masks up when we’re out and about, that we stay six feet apart, and remember, you’re always safer at home. Unless you need to go out, if you can stay home, that’s the best way to stay safe.”
And that’s going to mean a lot of people enjoy their sports this year from the safety of their own televisions.