With the NFL season set to kick off in September, the conversation has shifted from whether or not players are vaccinated, to how in the hell the league still expects to have “full stadiums” despite the Delta and Lambda variants acting a complete ass. Each NFL franchise has been given carte blanche to impose and enforce their own parameters for fan attendance, and the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders are the first teams to announce that in order to attend games in person, fans will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test.
NPR reports that the Raiders have deemed themselves “the first team in the National Football League to announce a vaccine/no mask policy,” but much like their aversion to the postseason, we all know that’s bullshit because the Saints announced a similar mandate last week. The main differences are that while vaccinated Saints fans will be required to wear masks when they aren’t eating or drinking, vaccinated Raiders fans aren’t required to wear masks at all. The Raiders will also offer unvaccinated fans the option to receive the vaccine at Allegiant Stadium, wherein they will then be required to wear a mask while attending the game.
“We are committed to doing everything we can in the current environment to protect your health and safety while at the same time providing the best game day experience in the NFL,” the Saints said in a statement to their fanbase. “We understand some will be frustrated, as are we, that we find ourselves in this position. We, as a community, have overcome so much in our history and come back stronger every time. Together, we can defeat this virus and return to living, celebrating and winning in the way we always have. We need you in that number—both on game day and in defeating this virus.”
Aside from requiring that its fans be vaccinated in order to attend games, the Saints have also announced that should ticket holders refuse to do so, they won’t be issued refunds. Yahoo Sports calls this “a significant step forward in positioning vaccination as the ‘norm.’” Or, in the immortal words of one Sean “Puff Daddy-P. Diddy-Puffy-Diddy-Love” Combs, “Take that, take that.”
“We’ve received all necessary local and state approvals to host a full stadium of fans and with that in mind, we are not offering a refund or opt-out option this season,” Greg Bensel, the Saints’ senior vice president of communications, said in a statement. “We remain optimistic that, with our community’s help and as vaccination rates increase, these restrictions will no longer be necessary as the season progresses.”
With hospitalizations skyrocketing due to the Delta variant creating a significant spike in infections, it’s a relief to hear that more and more is being done to prevent larger social gatherings from being super spreader events. So if you have any aspirations to attend a concert or sporting event this fall, you might want to get vaccinated so you can join the rest of us in living our best lives despite these dire circumstances.