Mostly Maskless Buccaneers Fans Celebrate Super Bowl Win, Draw Backlash

Maskless Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans gathered in the streets Sunday night following their team's win over the Kansas City Chiefs during Super Bowl 2021, though the celebrations quickly drew backlash. As video surfaced of the celebration, many noted that fans were opting to forgo coronavirus safety guidelines by choosing not to wear masks following an event that many had cautioned had the potential to be a superspreader event.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, maskless fans first gathered outside of Raymond James Stadium chanting, "Brady! Brady! Brady!" and "Tampa! Bay!" Footage obtained by Yahoo Sports showed a similar scene, with fans chanting and cheering without masks, which can help slow the spread of the virus. The celebrations were not exclusive to Tampa and the surrounding area, though, as video footage from Fox 13, showed fans "flooding" Howard Avenue in Soho, many not wearing masks or social distancing.

The scenes immediately prompted criticism online, with several wondering, if the virus was "not a thing" where the celebration was occurring. Several suggested that coronavirus cases would be "on the rise after Bucks win Super Bowl." Somebody else wrote, "God bless those same health professionals they were honoring tonight. Covid is having a party right now."

Ahead of the game, officials pleaded with fans to execute coronavirus safety precautions on game day, warning that the Super Bowl had the potential to become a superspreader event. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she was "worried about" game day because "people gather, they watch games together. We've seen outbreaks already from football parties. So I really do think that we need to watch this and be careful," the Associated Press reported. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, also sounded the alarm, stating during an appearance on Good Morning America, "you just don't know if they're infected" when addressing people throwing parties with those outside their household.

According to NPR, he encouraged people to "just lay low and cool it." In another appearance on the Today show, Fauci warned that the Super Bowl could lead to a spike in cases similar to the holidays, again encouraging fans to "enjoy the game, watch it on television, but do it with the immediate members of your family, the people in your household."


The concern surrounding the event had been so great that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even issued guidelines for "safer ways to enjoy the Super Bowl." Those guidelines recommended people gather virtually rather than in person and hold small gatherings outdoors if people choose to host parties. In Tampa, where the game was held, Mayor Jane Castor also announced a temporary ordinance requiring that masks be worn outside.

The Super Bowl came as the country saw a drop in cases coming off the heels of the holiday surge. As of this posting, the virus has killed more than 463,000 people and infected more than 27 million in the United States alone. It also came as several new coronavirus strains were detected in the U.S., with 201 cases of the U.K. strain, which is more transmissible, detected in Florida alone, according to the CDC.