Opinion: The continued wait for sports to return

Eli Richman, Contributing Writer

I hate to break the bubble of sports fans, especially as I, myself, am obsessed as they come; but unfortunately our beloved leagues, teams, and favorite athletes will not be returning anytime soon. Some modified ideas have been suggested: the UFC holding events on a private island, the MLB congregating in Arizona at a facility, and ESPN’s Top Rank boxing starting events in Florida where Governor Ron DeSantis deemed them an ‘essential’ business.

These are fun thoughts to have, and everyone wants to believe we will be buying hot dogs and sodas at our favorite sporting events, but as fans we deserve a harsh reality check. According to medical experts, not President Trump or league commissioners, we will not have sports any time soon.

When we do, there will be but a fan in the stands. Most of these ideas are quite similar. The athletes live in quarantine, going only from the hotel to the stadium, for the duration of the season. They are tested regularly for COVID-19. They bring joy to a terrified country like their predecessor athletes did through historical events such as Pearl Harbor, Kennedy’s assasination, and 9/11. They have always been there for their fans, but this is a time like no other.
Many experts, including the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci have said large sporting events with thousands of fans will not happen until a vaccine is developed, which barring a medical miracle is still 12-18 months away. Doctors in Italy, one of the hardest hit countries in the world, have attributed the rapid spread of the virus to a football match in which thousands congregated in the hardest hit part of Italy.

Now what the American public is not seeming to grasp is in order to run a league, it takes more than just athletes. It takes coaches, athletic trainers, reporters, broadcasters, housekeeping, security, equipment personnel, medical professionals, and others. Not to mention minor league teams will not be able to operate with nobody in the stands, so what will happen if a player is injured and needs a replacement? All of these people will have to be tested multiple times and self isolate for periods of time.

With the testing system in this country falling woefully short, should we allocate massive amounts of tests for the possibility of playing games, fights, and matches for asymptomatic athletes in peak physical condition, on top of the games being a shell of what they otherwise would be? Shouldn’t those tests go to the communities of color in Detroit, in Chicago, in Boston, New York, and all across the nation who are dying from this disease at a rate nearly double that of their caucasian neighbors?

There are simply too many questions and variables that must be accounted for, and the answers to these questions often have unfeasible answers. There is a lot of denial in our society right now, denying the fact that a plague has taken our nation by storm and public health, as troubling as it is, must be at the forefront, not national entertainment. Over 16,000 Americans have died from this virus, and that frightening number is only rising, and sports leagues will only increase that figure.

As the competent and patriotic Dr. Anthony Fauci has told us, we do not control the curve, the virus does. And we need to believe our favorite player–on our favorite team–playing in our favorite league will be there for us when this ends–whenever that day comes.