Welcoming Fans Back To The Stands

More teams are asking fans for either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
Posted at 9:07 AM, Sep 16, 2021

Unvaccinated sports fans are faced with a choice: Get the shot or cheer from home.  

"I gotta do what I gotta do to see the Raiders," said one fan.

"I'm like I’ll get the vaccine the moment I need to, in a moment it might inconvenience me," another fan said. "Well, I was gonna go to the game and it might inconvenience me if I didn't get [vaccinated]."

More sports teams are requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry. A recent poll from Morning Consult shows more than half of U.S. adults back this policy, and a quarter of unvaccinated adults say they would get the vaccine to get into a game.  

"An overwhelmingly high number of people are really pleased that we made a decision," said Mike Golub, the president of business for two pro soccer teams: the 

Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC. You have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test if you want to go to their games.  

"We've had a couple people we had to turn away, not because they're not vaccinated, but but because they didn't have they didn't bring proof of it," Golub said. "I think whatever small challenges we have will get mitigated. As people get used to this."

A growing list of organizations at the pro and college levels are introducing this policy. That includes several NFL teams and collegiate athletic programs like LSU. Vaccines may help teams pack the stands. But Dr. Jill Weatherhead warns other measures are needed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.  

"There has to be a use of those strategies, either negative testing, vaccination plus mask plus distancing, plus occurring in an area where there's not a lot of transmission in order for those rules to be successful," she said.

Sports teams are in their second pandemic season. Weatherhead says the previous seasons show teams can play sports in a pandemic, but they need to invest in COVID measures.  

"I think we learned very valuable lessons from 2020 that can be applied to 2021," said Weatherhead. "But they can't those lessons can't be forgotten. You can't just go on to have normal seasons like we had in 2019."

Mike Golub says his teams' vaccination policy will help them recover financially, now that they can welcome fans back in.  

"We think it will give more fans comfort to come, which is good for them and good for us and ultimately good for our business," he said. "Moreover, it's confirming, we think, with fans that when they think of the Timbers and Thorns, it's an organization that does the right thing."