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New Kind of Player Vilifications Ahead?

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Background: Sep 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and outside linebacker Eli Harold (58) take a knee during the national anthem before kickoff against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson

As record daily numbers of positive COVID-19 tests are eerily mounting in a growing number of states around America—-now 6 months into the country’s handling of the global pandemic—-while other countries such as New Zealand, South Korea and Greece have successfully waged a united effort to thwart the spreading of the virus in a nation-wide commitment to minimizing human suffering and loss—-

America is insisting that the games “will go on.”

That being said, if you are a self-respecting American athlete who wants to protect yourself, and perhaps even more importantly, you want to protect your family and loved ones from contracting this ever-spreading, ever-destructive virus, why in the world would you entertain a nano-second of thought about playing your sport this year?

To put the risk of contracting the virus in metaphorical sports terms—-players needs to understand that while they are on the field and in need of water, one of every six water bottles could be laced with poison.

To extend these odds to a gun metaphor—-players have to be willing to play a game of Russian Roulette.

Despite getting off to what appeared to be a decent start to the PGA season, with tourneys being played at deserted country clubs and golfers electing to fist pump instead of shaking hands or embracing—-just today with the knowledge that two players and two caddies have been tested positive for COVID-19, Brooks Koepka (#4 in PGA world rankings) and Graeme McDowell (#51) have withdrawn form the field of this weekend’s Travelers’ Championship—-despite both receiving negative results on their COVID-19 tests and the fact that the venue is taking place in Connecticut, the state that currently is maintaining the lowest percentage of positive cases in the country.

In Koepka’s case, his caddy has tested positive for the virus—-and there is a strong concern that Koepka’s own negative test result may not be 100% accurate, because the virus can lay dormant in people who are asymptomatic.

Perhaps Koepka was paying close attention to what happened with regard to the actions of the world’s #1 male tennis player, Novak Djokovic that are well documented in this short video:

The logic that seems to be lost on a number of people is—-isn’t the primary responsibility for wearing masks and practicing social distancing is more about trying to keep others safe?

For the most part, gold and tennis are sports for individuals.

What about professional team sports?

The NBA is preparing to resume its season in July with 22 teams staying in hotels and playing around the clock in Orlando, Florida—-and yet Florida is now one of the hardest hit states in America, just yesterday having posted a record daily number of positive COVID-19 cases of over 5,500—-

Yet, despite the fact that Florida is being ravaged by the virus, Disney World in Orlando is holding firm on its plans to re-open on July 11 and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has stated that instead of imposing a state-wide mandate of Floridians to wear masks and practice social distancing, in his words, he said, “We are going to leave it up to the people to do the responsible thing.”

Sure—-perhaps like this Florida citizen at a Walmart who refused to wear a mask? (video included in link)

Major League Baseball, after months of feuding between the owners and the players, is now committing itself to playing a 60 game season that is scheduled to commence on July 23 or 24. Yet, less than a week ago the Philadelphia Phillies recently closed their spring training facilities in Clearwater, Florida because 5 players and 3 staff members tested positive for the virus—-which then prompted MLB to close many of the team’s training facilities, especially in the two key MLB spring training states of Arizona and Florida.

The expectation is that the MLB teams will conduct their 3-4 weeks of training at their own ballparks—-but the imminent problem with that is the number of teams that play in the states that are being currently hit the hardest by the virus—-California, Texas, Florida—-for staters.

As for the NFL, if the league’s recent advice to the players is to avoid conducting group workouts and today's cancelling of the annual Hall of Fame pre-season kickoff game (with the Cowboys and Steelers being told they will not open their camps on July 22nd as planned) are any indication, the projected training camp dates in late July are now in serious question.

By all accounts NFL commission Roger Goodell has been getting daily briefing from the CDC and a team of doctors at Duke University. Here are Dr. Anthony Fauci’s most recent thoughts about there being an NFL season, which according to him is “impossible to call right now”:

Compounding all of the professional and college sports teams’ hopes for playing again as soon as possible, has been America’s dilatory, stunningly anti-scientific and now (in many cases) derelict handling of the pandemic (—-with government funding currently being cancelled for COVID-19 testing sites and in numerous cases officials and citizens eschewing the CDC guidelines for all Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing while venturing out into the public domain).

The caustic irony is—-if the sports leagues go ahead with their plans (which would be very popular amongst the entertainment starved masses), the American public is apt to vilify players who elect to sit out and stay home—-

You know—-after all, the nations’ professional sports stars are the youngest, toughest most indestructible icons—-and with the millions of dollars they are being paid—-how dare they sit out?

It’s one thing to take a knee during the national anthem—-but, man, to sit the whole thing out? In a team sport? When everyone else is taking the risk?

Well, in light of the reckless manner in which the nation has handled this global pandemic, who could blame anyone for keeping their distance?

Even if the primary objective is to keep his family and loved ones safe?

Imagine that.