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  • Dan Marich

To Play Sports or Not


I have been wondering for a few days now why so many people associated with sports, including fans, are in such a hurry to kill the athletes that play them. The cry's to start playing baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and others, is at a fever pitch, and has many near tears, because the game they love is quiet right now.


There seems to be little concern for the athlete, including by many athletes themselves, that it makes me wonder when we developed this death wish as a country. The numbers are overwhelming that this virus is killing Americans at a record pace.


We have recorded, as of Monday morning, nearly 2.3 million cases and 120,000 dead, and the death numbers are increasing as fast now as when it first started. Before a vaccine is developed and implemented we could see nearly 500,000 of our family and friends die from this.


So why is everyone in such a hurry to resume sports? Why do so many people want the stadiums and arenas to open so they can attend? Have we become so me, me, me that we've lost our ability to understand how bad it is going to turn out? Apparently we have.


Baseball fans are mad at the owners for not giving the players what they want so the season can start. The players were shouting that the owners were negotiating in bad faith, and they just wanted to play baseball. The owners are saying we will lose significant money if we do what the players are asking for. Meanwhile eight people in the Philadelphia Phillies organization have now tested positive, along with one each on the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros clubs. Suddenly the players are pumping the brakes on rushing into an agreement.


The NHL which looks like it will be the first sports league to get started, or looked like, just had seven members of the Tampa Bay Lightning team, including five players, test positive. Toronto Maple Leafs superstar, Austin Matthews has also tested positive which now has the NHL rethinking its plans to start. Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, two weeks ago, told everyone to slow down on rushing the season until they had a handle on testing and tracing.



The NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers just had two players test positive and the NCAA, Clemson Tigers, had 28 members of their athletic staff, including 23 football players, test positive. Friends this is serious stuff, and as a country we are not even close to having a handle on slowing the spread of this yet, so why are we in such a sweat to get athletes infected?


Look, the PGA Tour which is about as easy a sport as there is to social distance and keep people away from each other, just had one of its players test positive. Nick Watney showed up to this week's stop and promptly tested positive after being around some of the games biggest stars for two days. They have been in a bubble of protection and they still couldn't stop this from happening, so how will close contact team sports do better?


I said back in March, when this first hit the fan, that I could not see any sports being played until early summer of 2021 when, hopefully, a vaccine is developed and implemented, and nothing that has happened in the last three months has changed my mind.


It is just not safe for these players to be around each other, forget about outsiders, right now. The NBA is/was going to sequester all players in hotels in Orlando and play all games down there. Two problems with that. One, does anyone want to give me odds on how they will be able to lock up an entire league of young men for nine months while they play out the season and playoffs? Two, oh yeah, the state of Florida is currently raging out of control with this virus to the tune of 4000 new cases each day.


All the hand wringing about paying the players, all the angst about billionaires versus millionaires, was never the real issue. The real issue has always been testing and safety of the athletes and staff. If the US Senate could not find 100 test kits to test themselves, how in the world was baseball going to come up with 2000 tests per day, every day, to test their people?


I miss sports as much as the next person, maybe even more, since it is what I write about, mostly. Yet even I know that it just makes no sense to risk the health of players so that we have something to watch on TV. If the players won't take care of themselves, then other adults in the room need to be sure they're looking out for the well being of these people.


Let's get this virus under control. Let's get a vaccine in place so we are all safe. Once we have accomplished that, then we can roll open sports once again, safely, healthy, and smartly. Let's stop pushing our sports stars to die.

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