Santa Clara County in Northern California has thrown a major wrench in the seasons of a number of big sports teams, including the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford football. The county has made the decision to temporarily ban contact sports through at least Dec. 21.
“All recreational activities that involved physical contact or close proximity to persons outside of one’s household, including all contact sports, will be temporarily prohibited,” the release says, citing Professional, Collegiate, and Youth Sports. “People can continue to engage in outdoor athletics and recreation where social distancing can be maintained at all times.”
This obviously implicated football directly. The 49ers have two home games between now and that Dec. 21 date, against the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team. The team may have to find new sites for those games, as well as the team’s practices.
Stanford is supposed to host Oregon State on Dec. 12, its final home game of the year. 4-0 San Jose State, one of the Mountain West’s best stories of the year, is home for both remaining games, against Hawaii and Nevada.
Santa Clara County (Stanford, San Jose State, 49ers) announced contact sports will be temporarily prohibited until at least Dec. 21. pic.twitter.com/rVEI6gO2kK
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) November 28, 2020
This could also impact the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, depending on how the NHL’s schedule comes together. This is going to be a major issue for those teams, and numerous others at lower levels, though it is hard to blame the county for trying to do whatever it ca get get things under somewhat under control.
Nothing I’ve read indicates that the Sharks (whose season might not even start in the next three weeks) or the 49ers (who have three home games left) are going to be exempted, meaning they’re going to need to pack up and set up shop somewhere else. Yikes. https://t.co/Bihrc5Stki
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dieter) November 28, 2020
This situation isn’t totally unprecedented this year. New Mexico football was forced to do something similar this season, after a similar decision by the state. The Lobos team is currently living and practicing out of Las Vegas, thanks to an assist by UNLV, and playing an all-road schedule, as detailed by The Athletic.
The NFL is probably better equipped to find a creative solution for the San Francisco 49ers. For the college programs, a quick change like this may be more challenging, especially if the teams can’t practice at home in the lead-up to the games, even if those are moved to road venues.
Hopefully all the impacted teams are able to find a way forward.