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Publisher’s Perspective: Small business vs. NFL in purple counties

Rob Galloway
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To some, the NFL is hallowed ground. A ritual every week that brings together all its fans for an experience in the trenches that no other sport provides – and I’m all in, every weekend – even when my team is not playing.

But, this column is not about my love for my favorite sport. It’s one that calls it out.

In watching games over the weekend, I wondered why the NFL could continue to operate in these counties while other businesses were restricted.



With the recent rollbacks of counties in California, 94% of all residents are restricted to the purple tier, including both counties for all three of California’s NFL teams, Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties.

Just like the rest of the purple-tiered counties, there are restrictions on every business vertical, with some (concert venues, convention centers, etc.) being shut down for good.



Professional sports have their own set of rules under the purple tier. The rules for each professional sports league are set up and approved and have contained some very strict guidelines to continue to operate – including (mostly) daily testing for its athletes. But, all that said and all those regulations in place, it still begs to ask the question of why do they get to continue to operate?

The answer, in my opinion, is money. The state of California seemingly could care less if the restrictions put in place could cripple, and possibly put, a small business out of business. But, if it exposed the NFL to the same rules as everyone else, then you have a $15 billion dollar industry giving you the ultimate stink eye – not to mention the ire it would draw from fans all over the nation.

One of the biggest issues centers around the restrictions on gatherings.

Under the purple tier, outdoor gatherings are not to exceed 200 people and must allow for everyone to maintain six feet of social distancing from people not in their household. And this is outdoors. The Los Angeles stadium is indoors, so they should have even further restrictions.

There are easily over 100 personnel (players, coaches, etc.) for each team. That alone exceeds the number. This doesn’t even include the stadium personnel, security, media, television crew and whatever else falls outside of the team.

If you’ve seen a game this year, you know there’s not social distancing happening on the sidelines, either. On the field of play, these guys are slamming into each other like boulders from a rockslide – not exactly the epitome of social distancing.

The NFL is also seeing spikes in the virus around the league, just like the rest of the nation. While this caused for new restrictions announced Monday by the NFL, none of them would pull the capacity under the 200 threshold for California.

Each team facility also operates commercial kitchens. While restaurants under the purple tier have to close their indoor dining, the team’s kitchen can continue to operate and feed employees indoors – although under the new guidelines those personnel tied to food prep and not supposed to interact with the essential personnel.

These are just some of the areas where the two worlds collide. In addition:

• Regulations on gyms versus the team’s training facility.

• The curfew as it relates to primetime games (Bills at 49ers on Dec. 7) and early morning access to the team’s facilities.

• Office workspaces needing to be remote instead of in-office as compared to the team’s in-person meetings.

Look, I realize these are not apples to apples comparisons. And I sure as hell don’t want to go without football. But, my feelings aren’t what are at stake here. People’s livelihoods are.

I think it’s important to point out that there is unfairness here and the general public is on the losing side. It would seem if you have access to funding that can provide testing and equipment that isn’t available to most people in the country, then you can stay above most of the restrictions everyone else has to follow.

At a time when we are encouraged to stay at home this Thanksgiving and not interact with other households, I guess the saving grace is that there will still be football to watch. Ironic, isn’t it?

Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at rgalloway@tahoedailytribune.com or 530-542-8046.


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