According to a report in The Athletic, the NFL is considering requiring fans sign a liability waiver to attend games this fall. Signing the document would indicate an agreement not to hold the league responsible if they were to catch COVID-19 while catching a game. It is likely to be considered by teams as part of a larger package of recommendations for the fall next week.
“It is probably something you do electronically, just trying to figure out the operational challenges associated with waivers,” a source familiar with the operations of the stadium reopening group headed NFL security head Cathy Lanier. “Just have to work out how best to do that.”
Teams across the league have been reaching out to season ticket holders with the option to skip the 2020 season without penalty to their seating or seniority, which some believe to be a strong indication that attendance will be capped at most stadiums. The league has indicated that it will allow individual franchises and local authorities to determine capacity at games this fall, rather than attempting a one size fits all approach.
Already, the league has decided that it will tarp off the first several rows in each stadium – including on-field suites – to allow for a substantial barrier between players and on-field personnel and the fans in attendance. Introducing a waiver protecting the league and its teams against legal troubles stemming from potential spread of the coronavirus associated with in-person attendance fits a pattern set by the President himself, who required waivers be signed by those attending recent rallies on the campaign trail.
As cases continue to mount in many states, it seems likely that waiving one’s legal right to sue over virus transmission may be a part of the cost of attending any games in the forseeable future, at least until a suitable vaccine is found and distributed to the public.