Amid a new wave of coronavirus infections spreading across the globe, sports officials are scrambling to figure out how to keep their seasons afloat with schedules to maintain competition and a general churn of revenue.
They should not play with such stupidity.
It’s time to put an end to games, matches and meets. If we are really interested in public health, really invested in slowing the virus and saving lives, then we need to look at the storm that has gathered and take shelter from it.
Come back in February or later. Until then, if we exercise this right and we have collectively worked to slow the spread and spread of variations, we can get back to the games. Only this time with a renewed sense of diligence and tighter restrictions.
There is an unavoidable sense of déj vu in the sporting world at the moment, where fear and uncertainty about the coronavirus is rampant again.
Just look at what has happened in the last few days.
Scores of NFL players have been placed on the league’s COVID-19 reserve list this week after positive tests, including the Cleveland Browns and Washington football team players in double digits, prompting the league to return to mask mandates and prohibitions. Being inspired. Indoor meetings of 2020.
Dozens more players have been sidelined in the NBA, including most of the Chicago Bulls and nearly half of the Nets roster.
The coronavirus sent a terrible cold into the NHL, forcing the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild to cancel their games and the Calgary Flames to temporarily close.
With the spread of the virus in Canada, two Ontario-based teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, will limit their playing capacity thanks to new local ordinances.
In the middle of the college basketball season, the men’s and women’s programs have postponed several games through Wednesday, some within hours of tipoff.
2021 NFL Season News and Analysis
In Europe, several Premier League games in the world’s richest football league were postponed after several outbreaks involving multiple teams.
We all remember March 2020, when the cancellation of college and NBA basketball games was a sign that the coronavirus was about to turn life from the inside out as we knew it?
It’s been 20 months and most people have relaxed their vigilance. In sports, where the closeness of competition and camaraderie makes viral spread even easier, players, fans and officials have left as if the war against the pandemic was over. But now we are struck by a new harsh reality: yet another wave, propelled by the highly permeable Omicron version, adds another layer of danger.
“It’s a wildfire right now,” says Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics science at the University of Washington. His institute analyzed the data to predict the course of the virus and its effects. Throughout the pandemic, those predictions have been remarkably accurate.
Mokdad, like most other experts, fears what the United States will see over the next few weeks, when the holidays will force more travel and indoor gatherings and millions more susceptible to the aggressive Omicron variant, the dreaded Delta variant and seasonal . flu.
“During the holidays,” Mokdad continued, “I expect wildfires to be rampant.”
What should the sports world do?
take the holidays stop playing No practice. No fans jammed into the stands without masks, passing along Omicron with every high-five and throaty cheer.
Regroup in February or later, assess where we are and what we need to do to do better, then consider coming back. If that means shorter seasons and lost games and careers put on hold, then so be it.
We’re in now-familiar territory, feeling the now-familiar tension: How do we balance our need for recreational sports with a public health crisis that the sporting world has yet to grasp? Millions of people have died worldwide, including about 800,000 in the United States. Then serious illness leads to irreparable damage, cases that hang around for months, and hospitals are drawn to breaking point.
We are fighting a virus, and the sporting world is one of the most powerful social forces in the world. It should take the lead in working judiciously and sticking to the schedule.
Players will not like it. Mostly, they are highly competitive and equipped with a sense of physical invulnerability. They are not inclined to slow down their rolls even for a while.
League and team owners and sponsors will oppose it because of their insatiable desire to make money, money and more money. Notably, in the Premier League, where five matches have been canceled in the last 10 days, many teams are now in favor of postponing the league’s schedule. But such sentiments are still in the minority.
Fans will not like this. No one wants to miss a more athletic spectacle—especially now, because we’re worried about illness, the bum sports we can provide for those in need.
Remember the holiday season, all that football, basketball, hockey and international football?
Well, at this rate of infection, there’s a chance there won’t be enough players to field competing teams for those big splash games.
Assuming we weather the storm, we can get back to our game later. And when we do, changes are in order.
For example, both the NFL and the NBA have foolishly returned on their testing of players and team staff members over the past season. Neither league requires players to be vaccinated, both encourage unvaccinated players to get vaccinated by offering them carrots: get your shots and you get fewer tests, fewer nettlesome restrictions such as wearing a mask or team headquarters. Being different from teammates.
The time for sobbing is over. Most players and team personnel are vaccinated, which is by far the best way to keep serious illness and hospitalizations down. Now is the time to bring everyone on board.
The time has come for sports leagues to make vaccinations mandatory for every player. No shots, no games or drills or hangings at team headquarters.
Time to go back to the rigors of daily testing.
The time when all teams require proof of vaccination from fans and yes, wearing masks. What message does it send when we see 100,000 fans side by side in the biggest stadiums, a sea of immaculate crowds, everyone screaming at the top of their lungs?
It sends the message: Everything is fine. We can rest. No need to worry.
But we should be very worried, because once again the forest fire is extinguished. And that’s enough of a holiday break for sports.