Saturday, March 7, 2020

COVID-19: Crew Shouldn't Play Tonight

A stadium employee that worked the February 22 XFL game at CenturyLink Field (where the Columbus Crew are playing tonight) tested positive this week for the Coronavirus.

Before we go further: The likelihood of anyone contracting the virus is low and even if they do contract it, the effects the virus carries are apparently similar to the common flu.

That is not the issue, however. If the timing of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ohio happens to be next week, most will only remember that it came after a sports team visited the stadium where an employee had it. That impacts everything from team brand to ticket sales (no way my wife and 3 year old are going to a game right now, as it is).

The hysteria building around this virus is already impacting just about everything around us. From airports emptying to empty shelves of hand sanitizer. The actual effects of the virus or the likelihood of getting it do not matter, it's the fear. 

Much of the fear is being stoked by mass media (social media as well). Local news here in Columbus leads with it. The national news on CBS, NBC, ABC lead with it. Fear of a virus is a story that pops up any time we enter a slow news part of the calendar. The fact that they have one now that is new and trackable (modern technology!) is making this a hysteria that will only build in the coming weeks and even months.

In a warehouse environment, you do risk assessments all the time. Especially when implementing new processes. If the result of risk is devastating (ie. DEATH or Putting the company out of business) to the company and it is more than 0.0% chance of happening - you do not do it (and come up with something else).

The Columbus Crew simply cannot withstand what would happen if a player or staff member got the virus while in Seattle at CenturyLink. That risk is too great, even if the chances of it happening are very small.

Any dip in attendance, which impacts brand penetration, which destroys just about all revenue - is very, very bad for the team (and MLS).


My personal opinion is the game should not be played, but they will play it because this is AMERICA DAMNIT. And that's fine. I good solution would be to move the game to another venue tonight or just postpone it till later this year.


As far as official statements, King County (Seattle, WA) leaders are "in continuous dialogue with regional health authorities and Major League Soccer, in addition to our network of medical experts. Because of this, we are proceeding with Saturday's match, and Sounders FC is following the updated guidelines that were released on Wednesday by Public Health — Seattle & King County."


An interactive map that shows where the Coronavirus is currently: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

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