Stands Full of Fan-Submitted Cardboard Cutouts. What Could Go Wrong?

Stands Full of Fan-Submitted Cardboard Cutouts. What Could Go Wrong?

Stands Full of Fan-Submitted Cardboard Cutouts. What Could Go Wrong?

Stands Full of Fan-Submitted Cardboard Cutouts. What Could Go Wrong?

After a few setbacks, the National Rugby League in Australia got underway over the weekend. Like most sporting events at the moment, no fans were on hand. But there was cardboard.

For about $20 each, fans could send in photographs of themselves that would be turned into cardboard cutouts to fill the seats at the games. It would almost be as if they were there. What could possibly go wrong?

Never underestimate the ability of pranksters to throw a wrench into the most innocent of plans. Viewers on TV could not help but notice some odd faces in the crowd.

Most notoriously, enjoying the Penrith Panthers-Newcastle Knights game on Sunday was a cutout of Harold Shipman, a British doctor who killed more than 200 of his patients over two decades. (The real Shipman killed himself in prison in 2004.)

At an earlier game involving Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs, a cutout was seen of Dominic Cummings, an adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain who has drawn fire for traveling in defiance of lockdown restrictions. Again, pranksters were suspected, since it seemed unlikely that Cummings is a Rabbitohs fan.

Shipman and Cummings apparently weren’t controversial enough for Matty Johns, a former player who hosts a program on Fox Sports. He presented a photoshopped picture of the cardboard cutouts, adding Hitler to the mix. After heavy criticism, Johns and Fox apologized.

Still, despite the hiccups, rugby league’s return was widely hailed as a success, with praise for tweaks to the rules that sped up the game.

As players returning to action are tested for the coronavirus, it has not been surprising that a few positive tests have turned up here and there.

Vasco da Gama, a top-division team in Rio de Janeiro, may have a bigger problem. It announced that 16 players of 43 who had been initially tested had tested positive for the virus. They will be isolated, and there will be further testing of the people who live with them.

Training was scheduled to start Monday.

Leagues expect to see some positive tests, and they believe isolation of the affected players will be a workable solution. But when a good chunk of a team has the virus, the problem becomes more severe.

Brazil had hoped to start playing state championship games as soon as two weeks from now. Will Vasco really be able to participate?

Britain chose Monday as the day that sports could return, and several did. Among them was pigeon racing: A 4,000-bird race started at 10 a.m., British time. Horse racing, dog racing and snooker also started up.

Jockeys wore masks at the racetracks. “In this heat today, riding in the mask, it is very warm, and after pulling up I pulled it down a little just to get a few breaths in,” a rider, Jimmy Sullivan, told the BBC. “It wasn’t too bad, though. It’s manageable and it’s the sort of thing that in a week you won’t even notice it.”

  • Updated June 1, 2020

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


You might think sports organizers and owners would be delighted by the restart and the revenue it is expected to generate. But at least one soccer club chairman forcefully declared that his sport’s comeback was happening too quickly.

Lee Hoos, the chief executive of the second-tier soccer team Queens Park Rangers, reacted with passion to the announcement that the league would aim for a restart on June 20.

“We are vehemently opposed to this schedule,” he said Monday. “The players haven’t even returned to full-contact training at this moment and yet they are now expected to be in a position to play at a competitive level in just three weeks’ time.

“I am not a lone voice on this matter; we are absolutely appalled.”


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