Backtracking to previous COVID guidelines: Major League sports react to change


Isa Burkhart

The Quad City Varsity Blues play against the Mason City Mohawks on November 27, 2021.

Isa Burkhart, News Section Editor

Sports fans have enjoyed the lift on COVID-19 restrictions for the NHL, NFL, MLB and other major sports leagues. While this has enhanced the seasons in terms of fan turnout, team spirit and raging team rivalries, it is now proven to be short lived.

As of late December of 2021, restrictions and cancellations in the NFL and NHL have been brought back. While the new Omicron COVID-19 variant has taken the world by storm, the major leagues are reacting.

The most shocking news and surprise comes from the NHL’s decision to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics due to COVID-19 disrupting their regular season with the fear of the NHL not being able to complete their full season. 

On December 21, 2021, the league informed the NHL Players’ Association of their decision to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics. Alongside that decision, the league also informed the players that the league would be pausing all play from December 22 to 27. 

This decision from the NHL came from the astounding numbers of COVID-19 cases throughout the league, affecting 15 teams to stop their play as over 15% of the league’s players were unable to play due to COVID-19. 

Quad City Ice Eagles Bantam League Coach Andrew Quinn experienced coaching during the entirety of COVID-19. The Kids’ Bantam League, ages 13 and 14, also experienced significant changes to their season from the end of 2020 to the beginning of 2022. 

“COVID has caused some shutdowns, some kids to miss for extended periods of time and a new adventure at every game. From having to get dressed in your car to referees wearing face masks and everything in between. We try to relay that adversity, like this, is an opportunity to lead and contribute to your team in new ways,” Quinn stated.

In addition to the NHL, the NFL has also made significant changes in order to maintain the running of their season. While the NHL reinforced their COVID-19 policies, the NFL has now made it official for players who test positive to only quarantine for five days regardless of vaccination status instead of the previously recommended 10 days. 

While the CDC did change their isolation recommendations from 10 to five days, they specifically quote that the five days of quarantine can be followed by five days of strict mask wearing if asymptomatic. “People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.” 

As the NFL changes their protocol from 10 days of quarantine to five, they also stated that players must wear a mask for the five days following except during practice and in game. Although they do uphold the CDC’s recommendations for returning to normalcy in terms of being asymptomatic and cleared by a doctor, they do not follow the mask-wearing guidelines during the entirety of recovery from COVID-19. 

Both the NHL and NFL have responded to COVID-19 in very different ways. While both leagues have experienced significant consequences due to the COVID cases within their teams, the return to a normal sports season is the one goal everyone has in mind. While their reactions to the rise of cases may be opposite, both the NHL and NFL aim for the same goal: providing fans with the sports they love and support.