Add “football” to the list of things Donald Trump wants over the advice of public health officials as the nation and world at large continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. The president held a call with the commissioners of various American sports leagues on Saturday and, according to a report, insisted that the NFL should be able to start its season on time.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on the conference on Saturday, noting that Trump urged the league to start on time and floated ideas that could help owners keep leagues profitable.
In a conference call with major league sports commissioners on Saturday, President Donald Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, sources familiar with the call told ESPN.
Trump also said he hopes to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, sources said, though it is currently unclear if medical experts find that to be a realistic timeline amid the current coronavirus pandemic.
This flies in the face of warnings public health officials are giving about when normal life can resume in a nation suffering one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks on the planet, with little hope for proper testing and vaccination coming in the near future. It also came hours after the Washington Post reported that sporting events may be on ice for a lot longer than most optimists, including Trump, hope. Speaking with public health officials, Adam Kilgore wrote that fans may need to prepare for “disappointment” regarding whether sports can come back safely in this current climate.
“Unfortunately, I think perhaps if anything, having large spectator sports open back up may even have to be delayed a little bit longer than relaxing some of the other things,” said Dean Winslow, an infectious-disease doctor at Stanford. “I hate to say that, because I’m a big sports fan.
“There’s also the scenario a lot of people worry about, including my friend Dr. Fauci, that if you relax the control measures too soon, you could potentially induce a second wave of transmission to susceptible people,” Winslow added when asked about professional and college football starting on time. “It’s a little too soon to make that prediction. I certainly don’t think it’s impossible that we’ll be able to start resuming things such as sporting events by the early fall.”
Saturday’s decree is yet another example of Trump’s disinformation that disrupts advice given by public health officials. Just Friday, for example, the Center for Disease Control urged Americans to wear non-medical facial coverings in public to help stop transmission of the disease. Trump, in announcing that recommendation, said he would not wear one. Meanwhile, other governmental officials are less certain football will happen in front of packed stadiums come fall.
On his daily press briefing just now @GavinNewsom tells me flatly re #NFL starting season on time w/fans in stands in the CA stadiums: "I’m not anticipating that happening in this state." @AdamSchefter https://t.co/ejqC423Vtk
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) April 4, 2020
It’s entirely unclear if optimism for football is warranted at this point, but based on what scientists and those at local levels of government believe, the president’s remarks to Goodell put the cart before the horse.