Don't Let the Return of Sports Convince You Things Are Getting Better
Major League Baseball is back. The NBA is having scrimmages. Sports are back on television and zero NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19 since entering the Disney bubble over the last week. I'm actually allowing myself to get a little excited. I'm cautiously optimistic that somebody might be able to pull this off. It's a feeling I have really only experienced once in the the last few months, when it started to look promising that there would be a vaccine by late 2020 / early 2021.
Yeah, shit's been dark.
And I've been fortunate This hasn't affected me personally aside from being trapped in a house with small children and having our entire routine upended. Still, being in the Northeast it's not reassuring to hear that things are only bad when you look south and west. Those are the only two directions you can look.
Over the last few months I've clumsily described what happened in the middle of March as "when the world fell apart" because I don't know how else to describe it. We throw around the new normal, but everything is constantly changing. In New York we have four phases for reopening and we're constantly on the verge of going backwards if something changes. And when I drive by a restaurant patio with a few too many people I think may we should and wonder how long until we do.
That's our reality now. Just waiting for the wrong person to make a mistake and destroy all the shit we've been through. It's going to happen. It's only a matter of time. I'm sure that's how Adam Silver feels. Maybe Rob Manfred also considered having an emotion about all this.
Obviously, my stake in all this isn't as big as the commissioners responsible for thousands of people right now. But mine is personal. I know people who have tested positive, but don't know anyone who has gotten sick yet. My kids are too young for school, but we were looking at preschools when the world fell apart. By the end of March I knew my son wasn't going in the fall.
Just because Major League Baseball and the NBA have returned doesn't mean I'm changing my mind. These seasons are happening despite the worsening public health conditions around American. These leagues spending an ungodly amount of money to try and keep their athletes away from civilians is the exact reason schools should not be opening.
There is no daily testing and quarantining is not as simple as staying in a hotel room for two weeks for teachers and students. The kids are going home to their families and those people are supposed to be going out into society. And the family is only quarantining if someone shows symptoms because the kids are not being tested every day with results coming back in 24 hours. Hell, even Major League Baseball is having trouble with that.
Some colleges are asking kids to come back with proof of a negative test. There's already been an outbreak near me from a college party. If you check the calendar, you'll see that there isn't even college right now. Do you see any potential problems with this system?
It seems pretty clear that kids of any age should not being going to schools this year. It's not that a ton of kids will die, but if one dies, it's too many. When I was in high school, one of my friends died unexpectedly. It was an unthinkable tragedy for his family. It devastated an entire school. It had a group of teenagers crying in hallways and classrooms as we dealt with the unthinkable -- a healthy young person just going away forever.
As school shootings (and let's not forget other mass shootings!) became the new normal over the last couple decades, we've probably all become a little numb to the idea of dead young people. Especially since people die from the flu and in car accidents every day. So seat belts and masks and going to school via video conference during a global pandemic are the kinds of things we do because its common sense backed up by numbers.
Losing someone hurts. Losing someone long before you have to can haunt you. I know losing someone too early is not an experience individual to me and it doesn't make me special. I know this kind of thing happens for various reasons everywhere, but that doesn't make it better. It fucking sucks and nobody should have to go through it. If we can eliminate even one of those deaths where an entire community is rocked, it was worth it.