The Coronavirus has spreads its infectious tentacles into every facet of our lives. Entire countries have shutdown while watching their economies collapse. Many of life’s every day norms have taken a backseat to public safety, and sports are no different.
Their Best May Not Be Good Enough
The NFL has done it’s best to push forward in an effort to play this season. They have closed facilities, reopened them, and then closed them again. The league has even put in several new policies and guidelines. This is uncharted waters for everyone including the NFL. But these policies and guidelines, while a start, do leave quite a few questions unanswered. Buccaneers offensive tackle Donovan Smith expressed his concerns, inspite of the NFL’s attempts, in an Instagram post.
“To whom it may concern:
With the start of the 2020 NFL season fast approaching, many thoughts and questions roam my mind as I’m sure it does for many of my fellow “coworkers” across the league. The unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a halt to a lot of things. Football is not one. To continue discussing the many UNKNOWNS do not give me the comfort. Risking my health as well as my family’s health does not seem like a risk worth taking.”
“With my first child due in 3 weeks, I can’t help but think about how will I be able to go to work and take proper precautions around 80+ people everyday to then go home to be with my newborn daughter. How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferral of all types of bodily fluid EVERY SINGLE PLAY practice safe social distancing? How can I make sure that I don’t bring COVID-19 back to my household? Yes, we can get tested everyday, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I am not spreading this virus or contracting it? The reoccurring issue here is how? There are too many “hows” that have yet to be answered to ease player concerns and ensure the safety of not only myself, but also my family. I just can’t imagine how the game will be the same during these unprecedented times. Now to hear that 35% of my paycheck may be withheld while we are out sacrificing our health and wellness for the joy and entertainment of everyone else who will be safe at home in front of their TVs? Something isn’t right here. That should at LEAST warrant a pay raise due to the risk, not a cut. I am not a lab rat or guinea pig to test theories on. I am a man, a son, brother, soon to be father, and I deserve to be safe at work.”
This is where most of you will insert a dig at Smith’s playing ability. There’s a time and place for that, this isn’t that time or place.
Smith brings up some good points. Testing is obviously required, but as Smith said “it takes 24 hours to get the results”. That leaves the question, do the players self isolate from their families for 24 hours while awaiting tests results? How does that work on days with back-to-back practices? Are the players going to just stay in isolation all week during practice? The NFL has decided to push forward, but at what expense? The players health? That seems short-sided if not narrow-minded.
The NFL is the most popular sport in the United States, but it is in fact, just a sport. It’s a hard sell to put players and their loved ones in harm’s way without answering these questions. Or as Smith said, “there’s to many How’s.