Masked Sports Attendees?

Noah Young
Managing Editor

Something struck me at this week’s Chapion’s League game. The roaring fans all packed shoulder to shoulder, practically climbing over each other when the Christian Pulisic scored the second goal of the game, fighting off the whole team and pulling the goal out from under them. Watching this, and how the players got spitting distance from the crowd made me realize something that watching the Superbowl didn’t. I couldn’t see any masks. The fantasy that placed sports into a separate and non-COVID19 world had been broken. How is this? Why aren’t we hearing about these as super-spreader events?

NPR’s Wade Goodwyn talked with Adriaan Bax, a biophysicist at the National Institutes of Health. Bax states it like this “imagine cigarette smokers lighting up inside a packed room. Though large, the spaces eventually fill to some degree with exhaled smoke hanging in the air. Bax says these circumstances present a meaningful risk of infection.” 

These stadiums aren’t closed spaces and with some wind, it dilutes the concentration of the infected droplets that might cause infection by being inhaled by the people around you. And that “So even with the delta variant being so infectious, inside the stadium, it’s probably not so bad.”

So what does “Not that bad” mean? The CDC is reporting 947,882 COVID-19 deaths within the last 30 days. The whole of the event cannot take place in a socially distanced way, with gatherings, tickets, lines, and screaming at the referee whilst maskless will cause you to interact with these particles. 

In the article “SARS-CoV-2 transmission during an indoor professional sporting event”, published 10 days before the NPR article, it concludes not wearing a mask in these settings presents a serious risk while attendees wearing a mask saw their risk go down, and with the use of a N95 or KN95, had almost no transmission. This study took place, retroactively analyzing an outbreak by interviewing the attendees after the fact. It shows that even with hygiene screening, a large rate of transmission can occur. 

While the indoor basketball court is far from an outdoor football field or pitch, it remains concerning to see the number of people “Not living in fear” by refusing to wear a mask. Going to the event is fine, you can accept that risk personally as an adult, as have the other adults who are also in attendance. Wear a good mask when you go, such as a N95 or KN95, or at least a cloth mask with a carbon filter and at least two layers of cloth. As 

Sources Cited – I encourage you to go and read in full the two articles, as I feel that they present two opposing points of view, one of cavalier confidence during a sports event, and one of sober reflection in the face of a huge outbreak after a sports event. Goodwyn’s being the former, and Pauser being the latter.