Feb 12, 2021 | SPORTS | By Abbey Russell | Illustration by Daniel de Koning

As with everything this past year, Super Bowl LV was unprecedented. With COVID-19 still affecting everyday lives in the U.S., Super Bowl coordinators and fans alike had to get creative in planning the festivities this year.

Putting on an event of this magnitude while trying to maintain the safest environment possible for all participants was, of course, no small task.

According to the New York Times, Super Bowl fan attendance has never dipped below 61,946 and has even surpassed 100,000 in terms of ticket sales in past years. This year however, only 25,000 fans were allowed into Raymond James Stadium, the site of Superbowl LV and home-turf of the eventual Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 “The league has given 7,500 tickets to vaccinated health care workers,” the New York Times reported before Sunday’s game.

This was decided collectively by the league’s team-owners at a virtual meeting. According to USA Today, this was “one of the ways the NFL can recognize health care workers and help encourage people to get vaccinated once it becomes available.”

Additionally, the NFL has offered the federal government all 30 of its stadiums to use as vaccination sites.

The characteristically flashy Super Bowl half-time show was another obstacle to take on this year. The Weeknd, picked to perform at Super Bowl LV in November 2020, had to accommodate the current health crisis just like everyone else.

According to the New York Times, “The NFL has substantially reduced the number of people allowed on the field for games this season to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.”

For the performer, this meant fewer dancers, cameramen, band members, and so forth. It’s easy to see how The Weeknd’s creativity could have been limited by such restrictions not seen by his predecessors.

The pop musician is now receiving largely negative feedback for his performance on Sunday. “Like the unfortunate comedown of a long-gone night out, [his performance] built up to little of substance or memory,” an article in the Chicago Tribune said of the performance.

That being said, The Weeknd’s commitment to making the performance enjoyable for all the viewers back at home should not ignored.

The New York Times reported last week that the singer had “plans to spend $7 million of his own money to enhance the experience for the TV audience.” Whether or not this was a sound investment is up to the individual viewers at this point.

As for the viewers at home, Super Bowl parties this year looked quite different for the most part. Mary Nussbaumer ’22 reported attending an outdoor, masked-up Super Bowl viewing. “It was obviously different and much more toned down than a lot of the stuff I’ve done in past years but ended up being a really good time,” Nussbaumer said.

Some people were worried about Super Bowl parties becoming another mass super-spreader event, especially so soon after the COVID-spreading holiday season. Authorities in Tampa were especially concerned about the end result of this event. The New York Times reported that bars in Tampa will be open during the game and that some were even “advertising Super Bowl parties.”

Since it has only been a few days since the game, it is hard to say whether Super Bowl parties across the nation truly did raise the number of COVID cases. Either way, stay safe out there: even though football lives on, the virus is far from gone.

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