'Who knows?' Watching MLB stumble, Ravens fans, players feeling uncertain as team prepares to play amid pandemic

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Football

"They're still playing games. They're being flexible," he said of MLB. "We will probably see some of that as well. We have to be flexible, and we have to be willing to adjust."

The Ravens have not ruled out playing in front of fans at M&T Bank Stadium. Last month, the team announced it would defer all 2020 season tickets to 2021 but might admit socially distanced crowds of 14,000 or fewer if permitted by state and city regulations.

Cass said the team has a plan for admitting fans that he believes would be safe, "but we are not going to push the envelope on this at all. You wouldn't even want to do that in a situation where the numbers aren't in a good position and aren't trending in a good way."

A spokesman for Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young said the mayor supports the Maryland Department of Health's current ban on spectators at sporting events. A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Even if the team receives clearance from elected leaders, decisions about whether to open the gates would have to be made weekly based on the state of the pandemic.

Live attendance is an enticing possibility for some Ravens fans and a non-starter for others.

"I would absolutely go to games if allowed," said Rutherford, who would trust the Ravens to make their home stadium as safe as possible. "They are acknowledged Super Bowl contenders this year. I want a piece of that. That's why you go to games. The raw emotion in the moment. Jeez, I'd hate to lose that and watch a TV team go to the big dance. I'm begging to go to games."

Nick Bondura isn't so sure, though the 26-year-old Ocean City resident said attending a game in the year of COVID-19 might go down as a fun novelty.

"Probably not," he said when asked if he'd go this year. "Considering how much the at-home experience has improved, how much they'll push innovation there this year anyway and how much the in-stadium experience will likely suffer for a variety of reasons, it just doesn't seem completely worth it."


Bondura's misgivings extend to the NFL season in general.

"To be honest, I'm pessimistic to the point of feeling conflicted on what a (Super Bowl) win would feel like," the longtime Ravens fan said. "Besides the near-impossibility of uninterruption without a bubble, it seems teams are already altering course due to opt-outs."

Chang, the Hopkins physician, is a Ravens fan who sees real social value in the resumption of professional sports. But he doesn't want more people -- players and coaches included -- to become seriously ill because of an inessential activity.

"I think it's all about what's happening in the community. How much coronavirus is happening in the community?" he said. "The fact is that bringing fans into stadiums, even at reduced capacity, will inevitably increase the risks of transmission. I think we've seen with other leagues that you can do it without fans. It might not be ideal, but as long as we have this really high level of community transmission, I don't think it would be responsible to have fans in the stadium."

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