Behind the Scenes: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the NFL Draft and Off-Season

Behind the Scenes: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the NFL Draft and Off-Season

The 2020 NFL Draft supplied reside leisure to sports activities followers at a time when the world appeared to want it essentially the most. In line with the NFL (2020), viewership of the 3-day draft was up 35% from final 12 months. Not solely had been the TV rankings record-breaking, however the NFL’s herculean philanthropic efforts reached new heights. The “NFL Draft-A-Thon Live” occasion, pioneered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, raised over $100 million. Even given the present state of sport, with recent information turning into a rarity, this enhance in NFL fan engagement shouldn’t come as a shock. With the worldwide “new regular” entailing social distancing and full-on quarantining for some, many are discovering themselves bored, careworn, anxious, or some mixture of the three. Wann et al. (2004) focus on this sample of fan conduct, asserting that followers use sport to flee boredom or monotony, and can even use sport as a diversion from stress and nervousness.

For those who had been one of many thousands and thousands of sports activities followers who watched the 2020 NFL Draft, and are aware of the conventional Draft spectacle, you possible observed some variations. This 12 months, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the 32 head coaches, and different group employees had been filmed from their properties. Often, we see NFL and group personnel of their respective group “conflict rooms.” The normal crowds of diehard NFL followers, in addition to the keen draft prospects themselves, had been proven videoconferencing from their residing rooms.

Aside from the variations with the Draft, the Coronavirus additionally influenced the NFL Mix and Draft operations: 

1. Cancelled School Professional Days and Personal Exercises

Athletes who declare for the Draft have three alternatives to showcase their expertise to NFL groups. The primary, and most well-known, is the invitation to the NFL Mix. Happily, the 2020 NFL Mix went off with out a hitch, with about 335 prospects in attendance. 

The second alternative for prospects to carry out for scouts and group personnel are faculty professional days, which happen within the six weeks following the Mix. Professional days present publicity for athletes who didn’t attend the Mix or weren’t bodily in a position to carry out in sure actions in the course of the Mix attributable to damage or different circumstances. The NFL has organized professional days to make sure that all eligible athletes, no matter their faculty measurement, are in a position to show their talents in entrance of scouts from all 32 groups. The athletes whose Draft inventory had been influenced most by the canceled professional days are the small-school athletes who’ve much less publicity in the course of the common season and are anticipated to be drafted in later rounds. That is arguably essentially the most influential issue within the last NFL Draft order that was televised.

Probably the most unique alternative for NFL prospects to get time with scouts and group personnel are non-public exercises. Annually, the 32 NFL groups are allotted “high 30 visits” by which groups host 30 gamers at their facility for a day of watching movie and attending to know a prospect’s talents on a private degree. This 12 months, the NFL grounded its scouts and eradicated all journey to group services for these non-public exercises. Though the groups had been in a position to host their high 30 prospects through videoconference, the exercise actions had been restricted and the prospect to carry out in-person medicals was eradicated.

2. Potential Modifications to Rookie Improvement

The NFL entrance workplace nonetheless has many choices to make concerning all low season preparations and the general security of gamers. Most NFL groups schedule their post-draft mini-camp in the course of the first weeks of Might. Throughout mini-camp, rookies are uncovered to their first NFL exercise with veteran gamers in attendance. The NFL additionally reserves time in the course of the low season for Rookie Transition Applications because the league is definite that rookie immersion and growth are mandatory for a profitable transition from collegiate to skilled soccer. This 12 months, the chance for in-person rookie onboarding and group cohesion actions had been both held nearly or canceled altogether. Penalties of the unprecedented digital conferences and little face-to-face time with new teammates and training employees are nonetheless to be decided because the low season begins to transition to the brand new season.

Rookie transitions into elite sport are delicate sufficient with out a pandemic looming (Wylleman et al., 2004). The 2020 NFL class is being requested to mentally put together for a transition into their skilled profession, and into the general public’s consideration whereas navigating by means of extraordinary circumstances. Potential security laws are being launched every day that can proceed by means of the upcoming season, starting from the potential of much more extreme time restraints with coaches and teammates to giving the gamers the choice to opt-out of the 2020 season solely. The success of rookie transitions will largely rely on the athlete’s assist community and concentrate on sustaining their psychological well-being. 


NFL (2020, April 26). 2020 NFL Draft units all-time viewership information. NFL. -nfl-draft-sets-alltime-viewership-records

Wann, D. L., Allen, B., & Rochelle, A. R. (2004). Utilizing sport fandom as an escape: Trying to find aid from under-stimulation and over-stimulation. Worldwide Sports activities Journal, 8(1), 104-113.

Wylleman, P., Alfermann, D., & Lavallee, D. (2004). Profession transitions in sport: European views. Psychology of sport and train, 5(1), 7-20.

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