Long a tradition during the National Anthem, military jet “flyovers” have become commonplace in both collegiate and professional sporting events.
Football fans have grown accustomed to seeing jets flying through the air prior to kickoff. Flyovers usually receive a round of applause with fans rising to their feet. A “USA chant” can often be heard throughout a stadium as the jets pass by.
But times are different now as the country navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic. Collegiate and professional sporting teams are greatly limiting the number of fans allowed into the stadium for a game. Some NFL teams only began allowing fans into their stadium last weekend and most are operating at below 50 percent capacity.
Flyovers in Question
The depleted fan attendance calls into question if jet flyovers are necessary. Some say it doesn’t make much sense for an extravagant display in a mostly empty stadium. Count Fox Broadcasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman among this group, according to Yahoo Sports.
In the booth to commentate on Sunday’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers, Aikman and Buck called into question the necessity of the roaring jets passing over the stadium. The two longtime broadcast partners were allegedly caught on a hot microphone expressing their displeasure in the display. Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay’s home field, is limiting fan attendance to 25 percent capacity.
“That is a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover,” Aikman says.
“That’s your hard-earned money and tax dollars at work,” Buck replies.
The conversation then took a political turn.
“That stuff ain’t happening with a Kamala-Biden ticket,” the former Dallas Cowboy quarterback said. “I’ll tell you that right now, partner.”
The cost of a ceremonial flyover like this one is not clear. A Washington Post report from earlier this year suggests a military jet flyover costs at least $60,000 per hour.