The National Football League is considering whether to postpone the Jan. 27 Super Bowl if war breaks out in the Persian Gulf.
The league early this week is expected to release a statement saying that as of now the championship game will proceed as scheduled, but the NFL reserves the right to change plans if circumstances warrant.
The Super Bowl, the biggest annual sports event in the United States and a spectacle televised around the globe, including the Middle East, will be played in Tampa, Fla.
The two Super Bowl teams will be decided at next Sunday’s conference title games in Buffalo, N.Y., and San Francisco. Within hours after those two games, fans, media, advertising officials and support personnel will head for Tampa.
Although no one within the league office was willing to discuss the situation publicly, there is obvious concern about the threat of terrorism if fighting begins in the Middle East after the United Nations’ Jan. 15 deadline for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait.
There are indications, however, NFL officials feel it is not too late to initiate extraordinary security measures if they think they are necessary to protect those at the game.
At events such as the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup, it is standard procedure for spectators to be frisked and pass through metal detectors before entering the stadium. That has never been the case at the Super Bowl.
The NFL is particularly sensitive about staging its showcase entertainment in a time of crisis. Former Commissioner Pete Rozelle has said his biggest regret as head of the league was the decision to play weekend games following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.