Canceling Sports and Covid-19

Respectful from the Start

I wouldn’t be adding to the deluge of opinions on Covid-19 if I weren’t honestly attempting to add value.  I also want to start by saying that global, federal, state, and local leaders, both from the public and private sector, that have decision making authority with public safety implications are in a tough spot.  I don’t envy their jobs.  Lastly, people are reacting differently to Covid-19 and I just want to encourage respect for all people in dealing with this global health crisis.

At the end of the day, this post is intended to be helpful for all people interested in slowing down the spread of Covid-19.

Point Counterpoint:
Cancelations and Quarantines

There’s significant evidence that Covid-19 could break our healthcare system and lead to unnecessary deaths if the disease spikes too rapidly.  The best piece of factual reporting on this topic that I have read is How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart by 

Indeed, canceling events and self-quarantines will likely save lives.

BUT, should we be canceling ALL events?

Yesterday was a personal test of higher order thinking:

  • Major sporting events and seasons were canceled and/or postponed.  My reaction was that this sucked for everyone involved, players and fans, but ultimately was sound thinking.
  • My mother was put in a rehab facility that is quarantining all of their patients from any visitors.  No family members, loved ones, nor friends can visit.  The sad reality of the elderly passing away alone in nursing homes became very real.  My reaction was that this was beyond sad.  But it is also sound thinking as tough as a decision this is to make.
  • My son’s high school baseball season was postponed, including all practices.  My reaction?  This is negligent.

“Negligent”???  Sure, the response is strong.  It was my honest reaction.

As a Professor, I take seriously teaching our youth critical thinking skills and higher order thinking.  So, when having reactions like these, I need to take my own medicine.  I need to do the homework and do that critical thinking.

The Logic

#FlattenTheCurve is sound judgement to slow the spread of Covid-19 and spare a crippling effect on our healthcare system.  It is in many ways the 2nd order effects of the illness that will result in deaths not caused by the virus itself.  Rather, they may be deaths due to those that need care for other reasons being denied  from an overwhelmed system of care.

So, when considering a response to Covid-19, also consider the higher order impacts.

Canceling major sporting events that draw crowds in the 10s of thousands may suck.  But, it is sound thinking.

Quarantining at risk populations such as the elderly in nursing homes is very sad.  But, it is sound thinking.

Canceling high school sports???  Let’s think about the higher order impact.

High school student athletes are among the healthiest group of young adults.  They can carry Covid-19 with little to no symptoms.  They are involved in an activity that has a built in quarantine.  They are a small group that spend nearly all waking hours together practicing and playing.

What happens when state and local sports associations and school districts cancel sports, including practices?  What will these 15-18 year olds do with the sudden spike of free time?

A good friend of mine noted that their high school lacrosse team self quarantined in an ice cream shop.

I call it negligent behavior because those making these decisions are trying to do the right thing.  But in effect what they’ve done is to reverse the built in quarantine of high school sports.  Their second order impact has released a potentially contagious yet healthy group of young adults into an unusual array of locations they would otherwise not be found.  This can have the opposite effect of flattening the curve of Covid-19, and instead be a contributing factor to spreading the disease.

High School Athletic Associations and Local School Districts should consider sound thinking regarding sports.  Even if schools get canceled, which may or may not be sound thinking, they may want to consider keeping sports in place.

There are some sound considerations these organizations can make.  Consider limiting fans to under 100 people.  Consider restricting travel to teams outside of a geographic region.  Consider postponing large tournaments and events that do draw the bigger crowds.  Consider distancing measures, such as limiting post game handshakes.  Consider hygiene measures, such as having the players bring their own personal water bottles and not sharing from a cooler.

Canceling practice?  This is where negligence shines the brightest.  This is an isolated space of young, healthy athletes together under the leadership of their coaches.  There’s literally no better place for these young adults to be for the health and wellbeing of our own families and loved ones that are at risk of Covid-19.

Respectfully and Considering Health & Happiness for All

2 replies on “Canceling Sports and Covid-19”

Sadly I cannot bring Communion to the nursing home where I live.
I understand this.
But I am considered elderly and I amm told not to go to Mass.
I feel for our younger generation.