Coronavirus and Sports Don't Mix
I know you are tired of reading, and hearing about this virus, but this is serious shit and we need to all better understand what is going on, and how our entertainment is going to change for the foreseeable future.
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past month, the coronavirus has infected 118,322 people worldwide, in 113 countries, on every continent, and killed 4292 people already. In the US 1200 people have tested positive and 32 people have died. These are not good numbers, especially when you look at cases to deaths, a nearly 3% mortality rate is what makes this so scary.
Unfortunately we are just getting started here. Doctors and scientists in the past few days have said that they believe, before it is all done, we will be looking at between, and you need to sit down for these numbers, 70-150 million cases. If it continues at its current rate of serious infections of 15-20% then, at the low end, we are staring at around 10.5 million people needing hospitalization, and, a death toll of somewhere in the neighborhood of 700,000 - 1,500,000. At the low end.
To put all this into perspective, in an average season, the flu kills around 10-20,000 Americans every year. This would be thirty-five times that amount. For the 10.5 million people that likely will need hospitalization, including respirators, good luck. Currently there are about one million hospital beds in the US, with around 700,000 used at any given time for various things. Also, there are only 65,000 respirators in the whole US of A.
Now, obviously not all ten million people will descend on every hospital on the same day, but even big cities will have more than they can handle if these numbers hold up. Remember this is the best case, if we hit the worst case we are looking at a tragedy that will be unparalleled.
So, what does all this mean for sports, and entertainment in general?
Already there have been major cancellations across the country. Coachella and Stagecoach concerts here in the desert have been postponed until October. The Indian Wells tennis tournament has been cancelled and a fall date is being considered. The NBA has taken a time out until further notice and the NCAA has announced it will play the March Madness schedule sans fans, although today there is talk of a total cancellation.
The NHL San Jose and Columbus teams have announced that their March games will be played with no fans, and the NHL has scheduled a press conference for later today, so this could be expanded. SXSW has cancelled its concert and conference week. And MLB's Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland teams are scheduling home games through mid April in other locations.
Locker rooms are closed, autograph requests are being turned down, and normal interaction between players and others has already changed. Players are, frankly, more concerned about the money they are losing in the stock market than this virus, but even with that they are not happy about the possibility of playing in front of no fans as is being discussed.
If anybody knows about playing in front of no fans it is both of the Chicago baseball teams. It wasn't that long ago, in my lifetime, that both ballparks were routinely 80% empty, with no infectious diseases, other than bad baseball. The games went on then, and they should continue to go on now, with or without fans.
America depends on sports to take their minds off of the daily bad news going on around them. Without sports we would just be sitting around listening to our government spew more misinformation, nonsense, and half truths about how wonderful everything is and we shouldn't listen to the person behind the screen.
I'm a realist. Many people are going to get sick and die, and that is terrible, and I hope it doesn't happen, but the numbers are not on our side. We need to be careful about what we do and where we go. We need to wash our hands often, don't touch our eyes or mouths, and cover ourselves when we sneeze or cough. If you don't feel well STAY HOME.
Be sure to check in on the elderly and keep them away from people that are infected. Try to not touch your pets because they can get this too. There may well be a ebb come summer, but that does not mean it is gone, it is just resting, waiting for fall to return.
However, we need sports to continue, safely, responsibly, and continuously so that we have something to take our minds off of the carnage going on around us everyday.