Are we asking too much of our athletes?

Are we asking too much of our athletes?
July 20
14:48 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic put an immediate halt to all sports back in March. Now that several sports leagues are opening back up at the end of the month, many of us sports fans are jumping for joy, but on the other hand, you have stopped to think: are we unnecessarily putting our athletes in harms way just to fill our sports void?

I know professional sports is mostly about the money for the leagues and ownership and they have lost plenty of revenue due to the pandemic. They will continue to lose revenue even with games played, due to the fans not allowed to be in the stadiums and arenas. I don’t think we have a firm hold of the spread of the disease, yet we are asking our favorite athletes to risk the health of themselves and their families to play a game.

NASCAR began running races once again weeks ago and now the NBA and NHL are about to conclude their seasons, with the NFL not too far behind with the start of the 2020-2021 campaign. For NASCAR, it is much easier to isolate the drivers and crews, making their efforts to limit the spread of the virus a lot easier.

The same can’t be said for football, basketball and hockey. The physical nature of these sports encourages close proximity to the opposing players, which makes the risk of transmitting the virus much higher.

The NBA has chosen to play their games inside “The Bubble” in Orlando, Florida.  The NBA has worked closely with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish rigorous programs to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices.

There have been several players that have chosen not to participate in the conclusion of the season due to safety concerns pertaining to the virus. On July 1, the NBA said 19 players had newly tested positive during “in market testing” in home cities. As of Monday, two players have tested positive for the virus who were already inside of “The Bubble.”

That means even with the strict measures they have in place, the NBA can’t ensure players that they will be protected from the virus. Yes, most of these athletes are in peak physical condition and more than likely will recover if they contract the virus, but what about the people around them that may have preexisting conditions that make them more vulnerable to the symptoms of the virus?

The NHL and the NHLPA have finally ratified the return-to-play plan and the schedule has been released. The 24 teams that will participate will jump right into the playoffs. The games will be played behind closed doors and will take place in two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Since the season stopped earlier this year, the NHL has slowly and steadily worked on a health and safety plan in order to return, but return with a low risk for the players, coaches and all present for the games. But is that enough?  What happens if there is an outbreak for the NHL or NBA inside of their safety “bubbles” and players, coaches or staff become gravely ill? 

Those are questions that I am sure people who are smarter than me have asked and answered. I’m sure they have weighed the risks involved and the players are not mandated to play if they do not wish to do so.

I am one of the biggest sports fans in the world, but I am also a person who likes to look at the risk and reward of any scenario. I would love for sports to come back so we can all get our minds off the pandemic and other issues that are plaguing this nation right now.

I know how much sports means to people and how they can have a positive impact. I vividly remember the baseball game between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees after the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. I am not comparing the current pandemic to the terrorist attacks, but simply pointing out how watching a baseball game lifted the collective spirits of the nation. I think with all we are dealing with as a country with right now, a return of sports could do something similar for many of us.

My hope is that all the sports return, even if the fans can’t witness it firsthand. I just hope the respective sports continue to do all they can to protect the players, coaches and staff to the best of their ability. It would be a sad day to see a sports league start up and then shut down due to an outbreak. 

Let’s just pray for the safety of everyone involved and hopefully everything works out for the best.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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