As the national debate rages about whether fans should be allowed in the stands, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer has a very clear opinion on the matter: Fans should be in the stands, 100 percent.
The World Series champion recently told reporters that having fans in the stands is something that can and should be done.
“Fans should be in the stands, 100%. You can do it, we’re in outdoor stadiums. Fans just need to be allowed to come in the ballpark,” Scherzer said. “So hopefully cooler heads prevail, we look at this pragmatically and we get some Nationals fans out there because trust me, as all ballplayers, we definitely miss them and we miss the atmosphere that they bring.”
Scherzer pointed out the NFL’s success in having limited, in-person attendance at open-air stadiums. A plan that the right-hander feels MLB could replicate.
“But even from the beginning, even from spring training we can start talking about how we can get fans into the stands and engineer ways to mitigate any type of spread,” Scherzer said in December. “But if you’re outside and you’re following the rules, there’s no reason for me to sit here and say fans can’t be in the stands.”
Scherzer’s optimism has support in the recent findings of a study that gauged the impact of limited, in-person attendance at NFL-NCAA football games.
The study, conducted by medRxiv, sought to prove whether the limited and varied fan attendance at college and pro games throughout the country during 2020 and the first part of 2021, had any “substantial” impact on the spread of the coronavirus.
The results were clear and decisive.
“The matching algorithm returned 361 matching sets of counties,” the report read. “The effect of in-person attendance at NFL and NCAA games on community COVID-19 spread is not significant as it did not surpass 5 new daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents on average.”
The study concluded:
This time-series, cross-sectional matching study with a difference-in-differences design did not find an increase in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the counties where NFL and NCAA games were held with in-person attendance. Our study suggests that NFL and NCAA football games hosted with limited in-person attendance do not cause a significant increase in local COVID-19 cases.
MLB did not allow fan attendance at games during the 2020 season. However, at least one team, the Miami Marlins, have already decided to allow a limited number of fans at home games. In addition, some limited attendance will also be permitted at Spring Training games in Florida and Arizona.
As for Scherzer’s team, the Nationals have yet to announce a plan for fan attendance in 2021.