All These Sports Sure Are a Great Distraction From Everything

Jonnu Smith
Sports are back! | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Monday was the first day without NBA basketball in over a month. The NFL had a successful opening weekend without so much as a single player unavailable because of COVID-19. The NHL has successfully operated multiple bubbles as they approach a Stanley Cup Final. The WNBA playoffs start Tuesday. Baseball has been playing games for about two months now and they are plowing forward towards a postseason. The US Open of tennis was just completed and golf's version takes place this week. NASCAR, UFC, soccer and other niche-y sports are going strong.

This is all great. After taking a few months off, we're being overwhelmed with sports. There are not enough minutes in the day to watch it all. Considering where we were, it is pretty incredible.

The biggest takeaway from all this should be that following the advice of experts - masks, social distance, test, trace, track, quarantine - works. Or, as people love to say, "Bubbles work!" Bubbles of course are just a group of people following the rules. It's a novel concept that America has not embraced.

Instead of focusing on how this works, it's being generalized like it's something only the NBA and NHL can do. College kids are returning to campuses and getting sick and spreading the virus. College football is moving forward with the "gridiron tough" attitude of the NFL, but in dorms. The sport has escaped any serious repercussions so far, but at the rate they're having reported or unreported cases, it's only a matter of time.

Clemson, the No. 1 team in the nation, beat Wake Forest, 37-13, on Saturday. Despite the fact that they pushed forward with football season, they still had to furlough people. Somehow this hasn't saved the entire university. 19 student-athletes tested positive for coronavirus heading into the Tigers' season opener. 102 athletes have tested positive since June 1st at the school.

Texas Tech has had 75 football players test positive. Six are still dealing with the virus. LSU coach Ed Orgeron doesn't know how many players have tested positive, but it's a lot.

So somehow football has not been the ultimate safe space, despite the fact that games are not super-spreader events (nor should they be if there are proper testing protocols in place!). It remains all the other stuff. The dorms and the classrooms. Colleges in general.

It's an incredibly tough position for everyone involved because livelihoods are involved. Jobs depend on not just football, but the universities reopening. As cases rise wherever schools have opened it's clear this falls on the people above the people making the decisions. The government spent six months preparing for nothing and put the entire country in a spot where they just had to go back to how things were as if there was no COVID-19.

So now it's fall and sports are back and people want to see football and people who play football want to play football and take the risks because they probably won't get too sick anyway. It seems like things are about to get bad, but maybe they won't. Maybe we have just enough testing and half-assed quarantine dorms to get through this while a few players have to miss a game each and every week.

You shouldn't be mad at people like the Big Ten parents or players who just want football. And after much kicking and screaming it appears they will get some so good for them. It's better for sports sites to have sports anyway.

I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed that the people in charge at every level are either unable or unwilling to put those below them in a position to get through this safely. I questioned whether the NBA could do what they did. I'd be happy to be wrong about schools and college athletics too, but it doesn't seem likely. I guess it doesn't matter as long as we have sports.