Did Our Society Choose Sports Over Safety?


Jacinda Hewes, Guest Writer

It’s a Thursday night. I  wander into the living room as usual and see my dad sitting and watching a sports game. It’s a Boston Celtics game. It’s close to the fourth quarter, they have easily sealed the win. After the game both teams say their “good games” and pay their respects to their opposition. Casually they give each other bro hugs and talk to each other about their performances. 

Then the TV flashes to the post-game analysis.

 If you saw this scene you would think there is nothing peculiar, it seems like an average Boston victory on a Thursday night. From this scene it would never have been guessed that the whole world was shut down, society has been turned upside down, and life seems to never go back to normal. Amidst this seemingly normal routine is a deadly pandemic sweeping across our country taking the lives of many. 

But you notice that the sports games are still playing, the players are still traveling, there is still contact between the sweaty athletes. This is still occurring as our world is trying to save lives and stop the spread of this horrific disease. All of the medical professionals who have studied this virus have preached mask-wearing, limiting travel, and not being in contact with many people.

 If you watch any sports games, none of this occurs. For the safety of our society and the wellbeing of our athletes, all sports, especially professional sports organizations, should have shut down and stopped playing games due to Covid-19 because that would ultimately have kept the players safer, stopped the spread of Covid, and allowed fairness to stay intact. 

The year of 2020 brought many challenges, especially to the routines of everyday lives. There are many things that people took for granted that this year proved to easily take away. One of these normalities that changed was sports. 

The world loves their sports and lives for competition, but would we want to risk the future of that rather than missing a season? The players make the sports the way they are. Children, teens, and adults look up to these superstars and their above-average abilities. The force, strength, and power they hold create the effect of heroes in real life. 

With a deadly pandemic causing long-term health effects, it is important that we keep our beloved athletes safe so they can return to their normal playing. Professional sports should have shut down to ensure the players’ safety in these times of uncertainty.  The amount of players getting and transmitting Covid is unfortunately very high. I would expect nothing less since this virus is easily transmitted through contact or air particles. 

This NBA season started out rocky with “The first 23 days of the 2020-21 schedule have been postponed because teams had too many players unavailable”(Stein).  

This was mostly caused by the high amounts of Covid cases in the league. Already that is a bad sign for the future of the league. 

Basketball season started when the Covid cases rose to their peaks. This allowed many players to be put in danger and potentially risk their health. The players were no longer safe.

 The effects of other players’ decisions also had a large effect on the health of others. These players have their own lives outside of their sports. This allows the players to be exposed to many more people other than those who they face. 

This was brought to attention, for example, when Kyrie Irving was seen  “Maskless at a family birthday party” (Deb). 

These players are not only putting themselves at risk by being in contact with others, but also putting others at risk for being in contact with them. 

It is important for these players to keep isolated to avoid “damage to the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems” (COVID-19). 

Von Miller, a linebacker from the Denver Broncos, says “No matter how great of shape you are in physically, no matter what your age is, you’re not immune” (Keh). 

He felt the side effects and was “fatiguing faster” after his workouts along with having “shortness of breath and coughing”(Keh). 

It is undeniable that the safety of the players could have been protected if they shut down the games and let the player keep themselves healthy. 

Keeping the players safe is a huge priority, but what helps keep them safe is stopping the spread. Some ways of contributing to stopping the spread are “ mask wearing, social distancing six feet, avoiding crowds, washing hands, and disinfecting”( How to Protect Yourself & Others). 

It is important for all of these to be done fully in order for the virus to stop spreading and life can go back to normal. If these were executed fully, then we would not have to wait so long for our routines to return. These important suggestions are not enforced during the playing of these professional sports.

Varsity basketball player Kaylee Lyman says that “I’m an athlete and I love it but Covid took away the sport I looked forward to the most and somewhat hurt my social aspect. Although we had a basketball season it still wasn’t the same and made me miss the normal season.” 

 One of the most helpful things people can do amidst this pandemic is wearing a mask, and by wearing a mask it means to have the mask fully cover the nose and mouth. In professional sports, the players do not wear masks. The coaches and staff are required to wear them, yet do not always follow this rule.

 The Philadelphia 76ers coach, Doc Rivers, states that “I bet 20 times they had to remind me to put the mask back on” (Stein). 

This is common for many staff members. It is visible from the television screen at home. 

Many, like Rivers, say that the players “can’t hear” them through a mask. 

This is one of the many precautions not followed during the proceedings of games. 

Dancer Taylor Walsh shares that “Unfortunately due to the lack of rule-following, our sports seasons have been cut shorter, taking away time to enjoy sports.” 

As well as just the players and staff who are in danger, so are the fans. Since these games are still happening, this causes the continuation of gatherings. 

For example, the Super Bowl generated many crowds and some bars in Tampa actually advertised “watch parties” (Castillo). 

The Super Bowl also showed a “huge jump in customers last weekend after the opening of the Super Bowl Experience” for the Pint and Brew brewery (Castillo). 

This helps prove that gatherings are being taken place, especially with a huge event such as the Super Bowl.  

Covid is transmitted “mainly from person to person,  typically through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking” (Commissioner). 

This is clearly capable of happening while not wearing masks while playing, taking masks down on the sidelines, and being within six feet from non-household members.  While all of this is occurring, there is minimal disinfecting and washing of hands.

 When at a party or at a game, the player and people are too preoccupied with the events that are occurring to sit back and recognize their actions are harmful and allow this virus to continue rupturing our society.  

The safety of the players and fans is the number one priority when talking about the effects of Covid on sports. But there is also a concern with the traditions and fairness of these games that occur during this time as well. 

Varsity volleyball player Jada Hewes states that “Changes in rules in volleyball due to Covid changed some dynamics which gave some teams advantages and disadvantages due to things like height and skill.” 

This year caused many rules and regulations to change. It also changed the environment for the players. All of this affects the future of these sports. 

They wanted to keep this year very similar to years in the past, but it is  impossible. Is it even a fair year? Should the championships won really count? Were there advantages for teams that were accidental? These all need to be considered when talking about this effect. 

All of these did occur because of Covid. In professional soccer, for example, there are teams traveling across Europe and others who get to play at their home field. 

This is because “Government edicts, travel restrictions and quarantine rules — vary around Europe” (Mather). 

There is not a constant rule which can make these games very hard to schedule and unfair for some teams. 

An example of this unfairness is when Real Sociedad played its home game against Manchester United in Turin, Italy, and Manchester United played its home game at Old Trafford. Real Sociedad’s home stadium is actually in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain. Manchester United’s home stadium is actually Old Trafford (Adam). 

This is an unfair advantage for Manchester United because they only have to travel once where real Sociedad has to travel both games. They do not have the luxury of playing on their home field and not having to travel. The environment is also different because there are no fans and some teams have more Covid cases than others. The fans allow the energy to rise and stimulate the competition and rise emotions. It makes the player feel more pressure and either get praised or get booed. These impact the setting very much. 

I have witnessed this this year also. With no fans and the bleachers empty, it is the job of the players to set the energy in the gym or on the field. It makes the game so different. 

Another disadvantage is when teams have players with Covid and cannot have them participate. This also throws the game off so much, especially if it is a key player or group of players. It can change the dynamic so much. I also experienced this during my basketball season. My team lost some players for a game because they were exposed to Covid. We lost by 30 points. When they returned and we played them two more times, we came within one or two points. That is a drastic difference. 

All of these effects on the game are unfair and make this year different from others. It is important to recognize how drastic this year’s sports have been affected by Covid. If the professional sports had taken this year off and started normally when things calmed down, then there would be a fair competition and results. 

When talking about Covid, there is an endless amount of people that have felt its effects.  The world as we know it was put to the test this past year and continues to have to face this travesty. This struggle has not only affected a specific area, but the world as a whole. 

It is necessary to protect what we call normalcy. This should be taken seriously because lives are at stake, people’s health is at stake, and the order and fairness of our beloved competition events are at stake. It is unfortunate that some organizations only care about the profits of this year when the future of our world is being turned upside down every day. 

Greed and selfishness have corrupted the values of others. They could have done so much more to help stop the pandemic and help our society return to the happiness we felt before.