The Olympics from Tokyo and the horse races from Saratoga depicted a stark contrast for television viewers. While the human athletes competed in empty stadiums, their equine counterparts at Saratoga Race Course ran before a packed house.  Which of these scenarios will more closely resemble sports events in North America in the coming months is a big unknown.

What is known for sure is that the United States is averaging over 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day. In response, more major retailers are requiring customers to wear masks, companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Wells Fargo have postponed employees returning to the office, and events like the New York Auto Show have been called off.

At the same time, over 50% of the U. S. population is fully or partially vaccinated and booster shots for already vaccinated people are likely in the offing. So, unlike early 2020, the increasing number of vaccinations are currently a strong backstop.

Yet there is still plenty of risk of spiking cases owing to the Delta variant, primarily among the unvaccinated.  With the NFL and college football seasons about to begin, the potential for spreading Covid-19 rises dramatically.  Whether the football season and the MLB World Series will be played before large crowds is problematic.

On a personal note, I had long planned to leave this week for five days at Saratoga.  Days ago, I cancelled the trip over concerns about mingling in large crowds, particularly because I am in the oldest demographic group. In New York, 48 of 62 counties, including Saratoga County, are reporting “substantial” transmission rates of Covid-19.

After cancelling my reserved motel room in the Saratoga Springs area, out of curiosity I went back online a few days later to see if I could reserve a room at the same motel.  The place had no vacancies this week, so I am likely an exception: most fans still intend to go to the races.

As the fall progresses, sporting events with full crowds are in jeopardy. My chances of attending a few NFL games look to be dimming.

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