PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Hoke says if sports return amid the coronavirus pandemic without fans, the difference will be noticeable.
When it comes to things we miss during this coronavirus lockdown, sports ranks right up there.
The black and gold of our professional sports are deeply imprinted on our Pittsburgh DNA.
“We’re all about our sports, right?” is how Kristy Carlisle of Franklin Park put it.
Donna Vallow of the North Side says with the Pirates this summer and the Steelers this fall, “It’s going to be dead.”
On CBS This Morning, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made one thing clear.
More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:
- CDC Coronavirus Information
- CDC Global Map of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
- Pennsylvania Department of Health Information
- Pennsylvania County-By-County Map
- Allegheny County Health Department Information
“We are planning to be playing on time and a full season. We know that we’re dealing with a different environment and public safety will be number one in our mind,” Goodell said.
The NHL is working on a number of scenarios that would allow for the completion of the regular season and the playoffs without fans.
Major League Baseball is looking at possibly playing all games for TV only.
But football is keeping its options open. Vallow says, “They still should let them play, but just don’t have people in the stadium.”
Her daughter, Dionna Johnson, says not so fast.
“Without the fan energy, the players may not play at their best,” Johnson said.
Two-time Super Bowl champion and former Steeler Chris Hoke agrees.
“That energy and that intensity, that comes from the fans, takes the game to another level,” Hoke said.
Hoke says without the fans, the games will feel like a practice.
“I just cannot fathom doing that. They are a huge element of the game of football on Sundays,” Hoke said.
But with all guidelines pointing toward the need to continue coronavirus mitigation efforts, packing face-covered fans into a facility would be against social distancing guidelines.
So TV only may end up being the only option.
“We watch a lot of games on TV anyway, it may not be that bad,” says Ted McClain of Franklin Park.
But Carlisle says, “I think it would be odd not to be in the stadium or watching on TV without the fans there.”
Hoke reluctantly says, “It’s better than nothing, but I believe the game will be different.”
It will be incredibly different for Pittsburgh, as well. The revenue from all things that surround sports is in the millions, and the lost wages for stadium workers are devastating.
“Those are the ones who depend on being there on Sunday,” Hoke says, “They need that salary, need that income to pay the rent and buy food and provide for the basic necessities of life.”
Goodell made it clear that a lot can change in a few months, so he’s not going to speculate on how the season is going to be played.
But he does say decisions will be made with public safety in mind and through consultation with medical experts.