STUDY: Fan Attendance at NFL-NCAA Games Did Not Increase Coronavirus Spread

Giants Fans
Getty Images/Doug Pensinger

According to a recent study, having fans at NFL and NCAA football games last year did not increase the spread of the coronavirus.

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.

To assess the impact, the study group ad to look at several factors:

In this time-series cross-sectional study, we matched every county hosting game(s) with in-person attendance (treated) in 2020 and 2021 with a county that has an identical game history for up to 14 days (control). We employed a standard matching method to further refine this matched set so that the treated and matched control counties have similar population size, non-pharmaceutical intervention(s) in place, and COVID-19 trends. We assessed the effect of hosting games with in-person attendance using a difference-in-difference estimator.

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.

Moreover, the report did not find any substantial increase in Covid cases in the counties where NFL and NCAA games were held.

While the study was based only on limited, in-person attendance, the study’s findings would presumably be big news. If, you know, there was a media interested in good news.


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