A somewhat significant change is coming to NFL broadcasts in 2020 thanks to the league’s COVID-19 protocols: along with cheerleaders and mascots, sideline reporters and pregame reporters won’t have on-field access this season, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that sideline reporters will go away this season – they just won’t be on the field. This is a change we’ve seen on MLB broadcasts since the restart of the season, with reporters being bumped from on-field or in-dugout positions to spots in the stands, concourses, or even outside the stadium during remotely broadcast road games.

Just think: a few months ago, before the pandemic shut all live sports down, caused massive changes in our daily lives, and changed protocols in nearly every industry in the country, the XFL was giving ridiculous access to viewers through their on-field reporters during games. We loved the idea, and wondered if the NFL would follow suit one day. Now, the league’s new safety protocols will end up giving *less* access to reporters, and while that decision is clearly defensible and the right thing to do, it’s still somewhat disappointing to see.

I do think this could create more opportunities for the NFL’s broadcast partners to create new and interesting broadcasts, especially if more peripheral people are removed from the sidelines. This could (theoretically) lead to new camera angles and perspectives (though MLB hasn’t taken advantage of this opportunity for viewers, even more so in the stadiums that will not have any fans in attendance this season.

Here’s hoping the networks make lemonade out of the lemons dished out to them by the NFL and COVID-19.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.