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Opening up sports will be challenging



April 27, 2020

Temperature checks among changes likely coming to sports venues

     Since sports went into lockdown last month, teams and leagues have scrambled to create reopening strategies, most of which revolve around COVID-19 testing on a massive scale that is not yet available. But we have to push forward.

Devices that take instant temperatures (measuring heat)  are widely used in many ports of entry such as airports, and we'll likely see them at our sports venues when we open them up to the public. You've probably seen the sensors that someone points to your head like a gun to take a reading. That's not going to be fast enough for large gatherings.

The way the heat camera works in Asian airports is the passenger glances at an infrared camera, and if an elevated reading occurs, they are sent to another screening line. There they are interviewed about their travel and medical history. 

“We’re probably going to be requiring masks and fever testing before (fans) show up,” Florida Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell said last week on a Re-Open Task Force Industry Working Group teleconference.

Amazon is installing camera temperature checks to screen workers at warehouses, and Walt Disney suggested they could be coming to its theme parks.

“There’s a lot of people looking after this, if you will, trying to be the first to market,” said Sam Adeyemi, head of the U.S. sports division of Orion Business Innovations, which has technology contracts with MLB, the NHL and NFL and he adds is talking with them about a thermal camera his company is developing. “It’s a huge undertaking, right? So in order to provide this in a stadium, to have 20,000 people to get them in the door, that’s the first problem you have to solve.

“Then that process of turning away a fan and crediting them their money for a ticket that they paid for it to get into an event, those still need to be thought through … Ultimately it’s up to the league to enforce rules around that, communicate that publicly, prior to any events being restarted.”

There is also the issue that the cameras are just one line of defense.

“We have not decided” whether to use them, wrote in an email Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who last month spoke about thermal temperature checks becoming akin to bag checks. “One hurdle we have to overcome is someone taking a few extra-strength Tylenol, eliminating their fever, and misleading us, while still being contagious.” If you think about a sporting venue parking lot in the middle of summer, your body temperature rises naturally as you’re getting hotter and hotter as the Texas sun beats down on you. How would a camera read you? As being sick?

Another problem is many carriers of the new coronavirus are asymptomatic.

We need a break-through in testing and sensing before sports can really open up, and that appears to be a long way off.



Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter, or me, @RanDeBord

Attributes: AASNSports; TheAthletic; OrionBusinessInnovations

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