Super Bowl 2021: The End of Pro Sports as We Know It?

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NFL has had a rough season. Pro footballers have been getting COVID left and right. Entire teams have been affected. The schedule of who plays who has received constant makeovers.

The Broncos game where there was no quarterback due to COVID may go down in the sportsbooks as one of the worst games ever played.

Now, as we prepare for the Super Bowl, which will be played in Tampa, Florida, we have to ask some serious questions.

Super Bowl is something that people from all over the country tune in to watch, whether they like football or not. They do it for the commercials, the half-time show, or because of the individual teams.

How likely is it that the Super Bowl will be the same in 2021 as in years past? Highly unlikely. So much so that it may show that pro sports have taken a hit they may never truly recover from.

There are teams who are complaining that they never got a real shot at playing this year because of the schedule changes and COVID hitting key players. Pittsburgh Steelers had to play three games in a span of 10 days.

Fair? Hardly. But that sums up 2020 in the best way possible.

If anything, it shows which teams are capable of overcoming impossible situations – and there are some surprising ones at the top of the list. The Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers are certainly making headlines.

But…the Super Bowl is the culmination of the season. With it taking place in Florida, a state that has refused a mask mandate, it could end up being the super spreader event of the year.

The NFL is planning to prevent that from happening. Raymond James Stadium will only be at 20 percent seating capacity. Masks will be required per Hillsborough County guidelines and six feet distancing will be required between the “pods” of people.

With fewer people allowed in the stadium, the question is how many tickets can actually be sold. It’s being estimated that there will only be about 13,000 fans allowed into the stadium. It has also been suggested that many of those people will be healthcare and essential workers who have already received their vaccines.

Will people still come into Tampa to celebrate? Most likely. Many hotels throughout the area are already showing that they’re at capacity for the weekend of February 6 (the Super Bowl is on Sunday, February 7). Bars and restaurants will allow people to celebrate – and as long as people have a drink in their hands, masks are sure to be down around everyone’s chins.

There’s another thing to consider – with states across the country restricting large gatherings, it may prevent people from tuning in. Selling ads for the Super Bowl has been slow going this year, and that means that there may not be the same comedic ads in place as in years past. It also opens up the possibility that there will be smaller companies jumping in because they can get ad space for a lot less than usual.

As for the halftime show, The Weeknd will be the lead performer. The Grammy Award-winning artist has a large following, but he’s not as big as past performers – and this could lead to another drop off in attendance. There are those who tune in solely for the halftime show, and this year could be people choosing not to.

Although we don’t know the two teams that will be playing, there’s also no telling if all the players on those teams will be healthy at the time of kickoff. The best thing for all players to do is quarantine and hope for the best.

It’s all very different for this year’s championship game. The players and the teams have been affected. The fans don’t get the in-person experience, either live or at a sports bar. And with so many other factors in play, even the commercials aren’t guaranteed to be as impressive as in years past.

If the Super Bowl doesn’t offer the same promise of an epic party as it has for so many years, what does that say about pro sports moving forward? No one really wants to answer that for fear of saying goodbye to it forever.

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