The NFL has announced that Super Bowl LV in Tampa will allow 22,000 fans. Of those 22,000, 7,500 of them will be vaccinated healthcare workers from the Tampa and central Florida areas who have been provided free tickets.
This is pretty cool. Each team can send four health care workers to an area of the country that is averaging a little over 11,000 cases and 160 deaths per day (avg. over the past two weeks). This is likely a dream come true for many of them. But, to allow them to be in a stadium alongside 14,500 others who won’t be required to be vaccinated?
I’m looking at both of the NFL’s hands and wondering what they’re doing here.
On the one hand, this is actually an incredible gesture from a historically tone deaf institution. Raymond James Stadium has a capacity just shy of 66,000. In a normal year, the NFL would be selling Super Bowl nosebleed seats for $2,000 a pop at best. This year, they’re giving away 7,500 seats to those who have dealt with nose swabs for the past year, and they’re losing an additional 44,000 seats worth of sales. I hope those 14,500 people have deep pockets to pay the likely million dollar ticket prices.
On the other hand, my reaction was to scream that over 20,000 people are going to be able to be in that stadium to attend Super Bowl LV. This is more than the original 13,000 that had been announced in October. It’s not like the numbers are any better now. So what are we doing here?
I guess my point is this. While this is a truly wonderful gesture from the NFL, it’s still likely a ploy. A ploy to build viewership, and pull in those who may not have otherwise watched. A ploy to show they’ve been paying attention to what’s going on, and are actually taking things seriously. And a ploy to cover up the absurd ways in which they have handled the events of the past year.
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