I was very disappointed to see the reaction to the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak. I was surprised that so many in the sports media business rushed to proclaim that the season should be shut down and why are we playing sports at all during a pandemic.
Let’s get this out of the way. I’m not an anti-masker. I don’t believe this is some giant hoax. I don’t believe this is “just the flu.” I understand this is legit and precautions need to be taken.
That said, I do believe that sports can be played, if leagues and players are willing to do the right thing. I also believe sports and its players should be given the ability and shown the faith to adapt and adjust.
Major League Baseball has taken a hit with this Marlins situation. Miami’s players showed a lack of understanding, maturity and professionalism, and allowed this to happen. Now, where does baseball go from here? I certainly believe they weren’t caught off guard by this. I’ll give baseball commissioner Rob Manfred the benefit of the doubt that they have prepared for this. If their “plan” was so feeble that they decide to shut down over one team being affected like this, then shame on them.
This is a wake-up call to all teams and all players. If you want your season to continue, if you want to play, if you want to get paid, then you have to live your life differently. You have to be aware and you have to be responsible.
But it can be done. Sports can be played and its teams and players can act responsibly. Soccer has done it. So has NASCAR and the PGA. The early returns from the NBA and NHL are very encouraging.
That’s what disturbed me the most about the knee-jerk reaction by some in the sports media about this baseball story. Why the rush to sound the death knell? It makes me wonder: Are people in my business rooting for sports to shutdown? Does it make for a better story – the ‘ol “If it bleeds, it leads” type of thing?
Maybe baseball won’t be able to adapt and adjust. Maybe trying to conduct a baseball (and even more likely a football) season without a pure bubble environment isn’t feasible. Maybe the Marlins outbreak is just a sign of things to come. Okay, if that happens, then sound the alarm and push the panic button and debate the merits of the essential nature of sports during a pandemic.
But please, give baseball a chance to get this right before we rush to bury them.
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