For a few weeks, I have to admit, I thought it was possible, if not all, a fair share. But let’s not touch the brakes on the full throat back of sports in the middle of a pandemic. Maybe we were just slamming to the ground.
Keep in mind: This virus is easily spread, and this virus kills — close to 118 000 in the U.s. since the end of February. Is it necessary to kill a professional or a college athlete or a coach, or a staff member — to have officials of the coil in the back of these plans?
Let’s hope not. But over the last week or two, here’s what we learned: Four teams of MLB closed their spring training facilities in Florida, after players and staff members, have either tested positive for or had symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus which has closed most of the sport three months ago. The Tampa Bay Lightning has been reported that three players, in addition to some members of the staff, have been tested positive, and they flap their rink. Nick Watney has presented the PGA Tour with his first positive test after only five competitive rounds had been made since golf is back.
And football. Oh, dear, football.
In the NFL, members of several teams — including the stars of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott — have tested positive. And it is just what is known to the public. At the college, last year’s national title game participants, Clemson, LSU, have combined for more than 50 positive tests — and complete the practice has not even started.
This is the environment in which sports are going to come back? Today seems somewhere between unlikely and irresponsible.
Let’s look at this in two ways. Start with the policies. The pro other baseball leagues — that can’t get its owners and players to agree on the way the sun rises and, a fortiori, of the health and safety protocols plan to implement or have already implemented policies to create a safe bubble in which the actors and the staffs can perform their work without being exposed to the virus.
And yet the NHL allowed players to return in small groups only on June 8, announced on Friday evening that 11 of the 200 players tested positive. What is the next step? The rest just skate forward towards the opening of training camps, scheduled for 10 July?
Or baseball. Putting aside the fatigue of the negotiations of the MLB to lead a season, who complain about the economy before the health, concerns had been raised. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies were among the teams open their spring training sites. The Phillies have had five players and three staff members test positive. A Blue Jays player showed symptoms.
On Saturday, all MLB facilities in Florida and Arizona to stop. That may not be something surprising for anyone who follows the data. (That science has somehow become a controversial piece of all of this is further evidence that we are a broken nation, but for the purposes of this column, I’m going to put my mask back on and stick to sports.)
There is an element of geographical and Florida and Arizona are at the center. According to data compiled by The Washington Poston the 1st of May, the date of the Arizona officials that your stay is relaxing-the house of the restrictions and began the reopening, the state has seen 314 new coronavirus case. On Saturday, the number was 3,109. The graphic mapping of its seven-day average — a key measure that is supposed to guide the experts and, in turn, representatives of the government about regulation — is like a steady climb up a steep hill. It has never been so high.
Florida is not that different. On 4 May, when the state began with the reopening, there were 819 new cases have been reported. Saturday, this number was 4,049. A stagnation of the curve? It is as if the officials and residents are constantly trying to make points and to succeed. And it is the state in which the NBA is trying to showcase the rest of its regular season and all of its series, in a bubble in Orlando.
Yes, several of the states of New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania among them — are doing a great job in the constant decrease of their number, but even states that force lock-in on the early side are in trouble. Take In California. Its seven-day average is at an all-time high, more than 3 500 new cases per day. And it is home to three teams of MLB, three NFL teams, three NBA teams, three NHL teams and four major college football programs.
May-bubbles — with what would honestly need to be daily testing of each — can it be built? Given the positive results of what amounted to bubble already, which seems doubtful.
Now, for the game of football. Football, which has a professional league that is yet to forge ahead with the idea to stage a season on time and in full. Football, which has a quorum of governors of the system that is at once distant and discordant, which makes the supervision of the health and safety protocols almost impossible, as my The Washington Post colleague Will Hobson has pointed out in an article published Friday.
Of the inside and the outside, the football seems crazy. The Contact is both encouraged and necessary, and if you’ve seen the football players gasping at the end of a game — the bottom-of-the-lungs breaths, expelling all the droplets which, again, just to hold it in a vertical position, you can’t help but think of what they are doing to one another during a game or a disc or a practice or a game.
“I mean, we’re going to the social distance, but we play football?” Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay asked during a media appearance this week. “It’s really hard for me to understand all this. I didn’t get it. I really don’t.”
This is the view from the inside. The outside can be even more serious.
“Unless the players are essentially in a bubble, isolated from the community, and they are tested almost every day, it would be very difficult to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases official, told CNN. “If there’s a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and would be complicated by the predictable of the flu season, the football may not happen this year.”
Until the mass segments of the population of the country — including some state and federal officials, and, oh, yes, the president started ignoring the scientists who should be behind any policy, this type of statement may have stopped a sport before you begin. And yet, after Fauci’s comment, the President, Donald Trump tweeted, “Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening.”
And so, here, we have the burden, in a very scary unknown. Therefore, many Americans are clearly hoping that the worst of the virus is over, and the return of sports would not only signal, but to strengthen it. But the science and data don’t tell us that this is the case not for the time being, and certainly not in the fall and winter.
If the players and staff members test positive for a disease that has killed thousands of Americans, even before the sport really start again, it’s worth asking: When the positive cases, and the concern for the athletes and staff, outweigh the benefits of playing games?